Prednisone reduces muscle degeneration in dystrophin-deficient Caenorhabditis elegans

Gaud A, Simon JM, Witzel T, Carre-Pierrat M, Wermuth CG, Ségalat L
Neuromuscular Disorders - vol. 14 365-370 (2004)

Neuromuscular Disorders

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a degenerative muscular disease caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene. There is no curative treatment against Duchenne muscular dystrophy. In several countries, the steroid prednisone (or analogs) is prescribed as a palliative treatment. In the model animal Caenorhabditis elegans, mutations of the dys-1 dystrophin-like gene lead to a muscular degenerative phenotype when they are associated with a mild MyoD mutation. This cheap and fast-growing model of dystrophinopathy may be used to screen for molecules able to slow muscle degeneration. In a blind screen of approximately 100 compounds covering a wide spectrum of targets, we found that prednisone is beneficial to the C. elegans dystrophin-deficient muscles. Prednisone reduces by 40% the number of degenerating cells in this animal. This result is a proof-of-principle for the use of C. elegans as a tool in the search for molecules active against the effects of dystrophin-deficiency. Moreover, since C. elegans is not susceptible to inflammation, this suggests that prednisone exerts a direct effect on muscle survival. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.