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The immune system in Duchenne muscular dystrophy: Friend or foe


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a genetic disease caused by mutations in the X-linked dystrophin gene, resulting in reduced or absent protein production, subsequently leading to the structural instability of the dystroglycan complex (DGC), muscle degeneration, and early death in males. Thus, current treatments have been targeting the genetic defect either by bypassing the mutation through exon skipping or replacing the defective gene through gene therapy and stem cell approaches. However, what has been an underappreciated mediator of muscle pathology and, ultimately, of muscle degeneration and fibrotic replacement, is the prominent inflammatory response. Of potentially critical importance, however, is the fact that the elements mediating the inflammatory response also play an essential role in tissue repair. In this opinion piece, we highlight the detrimental and supportive immune parameters that occur as a consequence of the genetic disorder and discuss how changes to immunity can potentially ameliorate the disease intensity and be employed in conjunction with efforts to correct the genetic disorder.

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