Small Fractions of Muscular Dystrophy Embryonic Stem Cells Yield Severe Cardiac and Skeletal Muscle Defects in Adult Mouse Chimeras

J. Patrick Gonzalez, Sergii Kyrychenko, Viktoriia Kyrychenko, Joel S. Schneider, Celine J. Granier, Eric Himelman, Kevin C. Lahey, Qingshi Zhao, Ghassan Yehia, Yuan Xiang Tao, Mantu Bhaumik, Natalia Shirokova, Diego Fraidenraich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is characterized by the loss of the protein dystrophin, leading to muscle fragility, progressive weakening, and susceptibility to mechanical stress. Although dystrophin-negative mdx mouse models have classically been used to study DMD, phenotypes appear mild compared to patients. As a result, characterization of muscle pathology, especially in the heart, has proven difficult. We report that injection of mdx embryonic stem cells (ESCs) into Wild Type blastocysts produces adult mouse chimeras with severe DMD phenotypes in the heart and skeletal muscle. Inflammation, regeneration and fibrosis are observed at the whole organ level, both in dystrophin-negative and dystrophin-positive portions of the chimeric tissues. Skeletal and cardiac muscle function are also decreased to mdx levels. In contrast to mdx heterozygous carriers, which show no significant phenotypes, these effects are even observed in chimeras with low levels of mdx ESC incorporation (10%-30%). Chimeric mice lack typical compensatory utrophin upregulation, and show pathological remodeling of Connexin-43. In addition, dystrophin-negative and dystrophin–positive isolated cardiomyocytes show augmented calcium response to mechanical stress, similar to mdx cells. These global effects highlight a novel role of mdx ESCs in triggering muscular dystrophy even when only low amounts are present. Stem Cells 2017;35:597–610.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-610
Number of pages14
JournalStem Cells
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Chimeras
  • Connexin-43
  • Dystrophin
  • Embryonic stem cells
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Utrophin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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