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Galectin-1 Protein Therapy Prevents Pathology and Improves Muscle Function in the mdx Mouse Model of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a fatal neuromuscular disease caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene, leading to the loss of a critical component of the sarcolemmal dystrophin glycoprotein complex. Galectin-1 is a small 14 kDa protein normally found in skeletal muscle and has been shown to be a modifier of immune response, muscle repair, and apoptosis. Galectin-1 levels are elevated in the muscle of mouse and dog models of DMD. Together, these findings led us to hypothesize that Galectin-1 may serve as a modifier of disease progression in DMD. To test this hypothesis, recombinant mouse Galectin-1 was produced and used to treat myogenic cells and the mdx mouse model of DMD. Here we show that intramuscular and intraperitoneal injections of Galectin-1 into mdx mice prevented pathology and improved muscle function in skeletal muscle. These improvements were a result of enhanced sarcolemmal stability mediated by elevated utrophin and alpha 7 beta 1 integrin protein levels. Together our results demonstrate for the first time that Galectin-1 may serve as an exciting new protein therapeutic for the treatment of DMD.