Dystrophin deficiency leads to progressive muscle degeneration in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients. No known cure exists, and standard care relies on the use of antiinflammatory steroids, which are associated with side effects that complicate long-term use. Here, we report that a single intravenous dose of clinical-stage cardiac stromal cells, called cardiosphere-derived cells (CDCs), improves the dystrophic phenotype in mdx mice. CDCs augment cardiac and skeletal muscle function, partially reverse established heart damage, and boost the regenerative capacity of skeletal muscle. We further demonstrate that CDCs work by secreting exosomes, which normalize gene expression at the transcriptome level, and alter cell signaling and biological processes in mdx hearts and skeletal muscle. The work reported here motivated the ongoing HOPE-2 clinical trial of systemic CDC delivery to DMD patients, and identifies exosomes as next-generation cell-free therapeutic candidates for DMD.
Russell G. Rogers, Mario Fournier, Lizbeth Sanchez, Ahmed G. Ibrahim, Mark A. Aminzadeh, Michael I. Lewis, Eduardo Marbán