Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a uniformly fatal condition of striated muscle wasting resulting in premature death from respiratory and/or cardiac failure. Symptomatic therapy has prolonged survival by limiting deaths resulting from respiratory insufficiency, but there is currently no effective therapy for most patients with DMD. This grim prognosis has led patients and their families to seek unproven therapeutic approaches. One such approach is the use of hyperbaric therapies, which 14% of DMD patients self-report using. The primary goal of this study was to determine if intermittent hyperbaric exposure altered the muscle function of the mdx mouse, a genetic model of DMD. To do this, mdx mice were exposed to three daily 90-minute 1.3 atmosphere hyperbaric exposures for 4 weeks. Skeletal muscle, respiratory, and cardiac function were assessed in treated and untreated wild type and dystrophic mice. The results of these studies find that hyperbaric and hyperoxic approaches resulted in increased cardiac fibrosis in dystrophic mice and no beneficial effects on the functional parameters measured. These data suggest that these oxygen-based therapies are unlikely to provide therapeutic benefit to DMD patients.
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