Age-related differences in dystrophin: Impact on force transfer proteins, membrane integrity, and neuromuscular junction stability

David C. Hughes, George R. Marcotte, Andrea G. Marshall, Daniel W.D. West, Leslie M. Baehr, Marita A. Wallace, Perrie M. Saleh, Sue Bodine, Keith Baar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The loss of muscle strength with age has been studied from the perspective of a decline in muscle mass and neuromuscular junction (NMJ) stability. A third potential factor is force transmission. The purpose of this study was to determine the changes in the force transfer apparatus within aging muscle and the impact on membrane integrity and NMJ stability. We measured an age-related loss of dystrophin protein that was greatest in the flexor muscles. The loss of dystrophin protein occurred despite a twofold increase in dystrophin mRNA. Importantly, this disparity could be explained by the four-to fivefold upregulation of the dystromir miR-31. To compensate for the loss of dystrophin protein, aged muscle contained increased α-sarcoglycan, syntrophin, sarcospan, laminin, β1-integrin, desmuslin, and the Z-line proteins α-actinin and desmin. In spite of the adaptive increase in other force transfer proteins, over the 48 hours following lengthening contractions, the old muscles showed more signs of impaired membrane integrity (fourfold increase in immunoglobulin G-positive fibers and 70% greater dysferlin mRNA) and NMJ instability (14-to 96-fold increases in Runx1, AchRδ, and myogenin mRNA). Overall, these data suggest that age-dependent alterations in dystrophin leave the muscle membrane and NMJ more susceptible to contraction-induced damage even before changes in muscle mass are obvious.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)640-648
Number of pages9
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2017


  • Aging
  • Dystrophin-associated glycoprotein complex
  • Force transmission
  • Regeneration
  • Skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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