Inhibition of myostatin improves muscle atrophy in OPMD

Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) is a late-onset muscle disease affecting one per 80 000 of the general population characterized by profound dysphagia and ptosis, and limb weakness at later stages. Affected muscles are characterized by increased fibrosis and atrophy. Myostatin is a negative regulator of muscle mass, and inhibition of myostatin has been demonstrated to ameliorate symptoms in dystrophic muscles.

In this study, the Franco-British team, including researchers from the Institute, performed a systemic delivery of a monoclonal antibody to immunologically block myostatin in the A17 mouse model of OPMD. The mice were administered a weekly dose of 10 mg/kg RK35 intraperitonially for 10 weeks, following which histological analyses were performed on the samples.

This treatment significantly improved body mass and muscle mass in the A17 mice treated with RK35 when compared to saline controls. Similarly, a significantly increased muscle strength and myofibre diameter, and reduced expression of markers of muscle fibrosis was also observed. No change in the density of intranuclear inclusions (a hallmark of disease progression of OPMD) was however observed.

This study supports the clinical translation of such antibody-mediated inhibition of myostatin as a treatment of OPMD. This strategy has implications to be used as adjuvant therapies with gene therapy based approaches, or to stabilize the muscle prior to myoblast transplantation.


Inhibition of myostatin improves muscle atrophy in oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD). Harish P, Malerba A, Lu Nguyen N, Forrest L, Cappellari O, Roth F, Trollet C, Popplewell L, Dickson G. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2019 May 7. doi: 10.1002/jcsm.12438. [Epub ahead of print]