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Muscle-derived neurotrophic factors may offer therapeutic promise for treating neuromuscular diseases. We report that a muscle-derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF, rescues synaptic and muscle function in a muscle-type specific manner in mice modelling Kennedy's disease (KD). We also find that BDNF rescues select molecular mechanisms in slow and fast muscle that may underlie the improved cellular function. We also report for the first time that expression of BDNF, but not other members of the neurotrophin family, is perturbed in muscle from patients with KD. Given that muscle BDNF had divergent therapeutic effects that depended on muscle type, a combination of neurotrophic factors may optimally rescue neuromuscular function via effects on both pre- and postsynaptic function, in the face of disease. Deficits in muscle brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) correlate with neuromuscular deficits in mouse models of Kennedy's disease (KD), suggesting that restoring muscle BDNF might restore function. To test this possibility, transgenic mice expressing human BDNF in skeletal muscle were crossed with '97Q' KD mice. We found that muscle BDNF slowed disease, doubling the time between symptom onset and endstage. BDNF also improved expression of genes in muscle known to play key roles in neuromuscular function, including counteracting the expression of neonatal isoforms induced by disease. Intriguingly, BDNF's ameliorative effects differed between muscle types: synaptic strength was rescued only in slow-twitch muscle, while contractile strength was improved only in fast-twitch muscle. In sum, muscle BDNF slows disease progression, rescuing select cellular and molecular mechanisms that depend on fibre type. Muscle BDNF expression was also affected in KD patients, reinforcing its translational and therapeutic potential for treating this disorder. © 2020 The Authors. The Journal of Physiology © 2020 The Physiological Society.


Katherine Halievski, Youfen Xu, Yazeed W Haddad, Yu Ping Tang, Shinichiro Yamada, Masahisa Katsuno, Hiroaki Adachi, Gen Sobue, S Marc Breedlove, Cynthia L Jordan. Muscle BDNF improves synaptic and contractile muscle strength in Kennedy's disease mice in a muscle-type specific manner. The Journal of physiology. 2020 Jul;598(13):2719-2739

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PMID: 32306402

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