1.Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies are X-linked disorders caused by defects in muscle dystrophin. The mdx mouse is an animal model for Duchenne muscular dystrophy which has a point mutation in the dystrophin gene, resulting in little (< 3%) or no expression of dystrophin in muscle. Mdx mice show a characteristic pattern of muscle necrosis and regeneration. Muscles are normal until the third postnatal week when widespread necrosis commences. This is followed by muscle regeneration, with the persistence of centrally nucleated fibres.

2.This work has examined the hypothesis that the onset of this muscle necrosis is associated with postnatal maturation of the thyroid endocrine system and that pharmacological inhibition of thyroid hormone synthesis delays the onset of muscle necrosis.

3.Serum T4 and T3 concentrations of mice were found to rise immediately before the onset of muscle necrosis in the mdx mouse, and induction of hypothyroidism by treatment of animals with propylthiouracil was found to delay the onset of muscle necrosis.

4.The results provide the first demonstration of experimental delay of muscle necrosis by manipulation of the endocrine system in muscle lacking dystrophin, and provide a novel insight into the way in which a lack of dystrophin interacts with postnatal development to precipitate muscle necrosis in the mdx mouse.

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