Extensive biomarker discoveries for DMD have occurred in the past 7 years, and a vast array of these biomarkers were confirmed in independent cohorts and across different laboratories. In these previous studies, glucocorticoids and age were two major confounding variables. In this new study, using SomaScan technology and focusing on a subset of young DMD patients who were not yet treated with glucocorticoids, we identified 108 elevated and 70 decreased proteins in DMD relative to age matched healthy controls (p value < 0.05 after adjusting for multiple testing). The majority of the elevated proteins were muscle centric followed by cell adhesion, extracellular matrix proteins and a few pro-inflammatory proteins. The majority of decreased proteins were of cell adhesion, however, some had to do with cell differentiation and growth factors. Subsequent treatment of this group of DMD patients with glucocorticoids affected two major groups of pharmacodynamic biomarkers. The first group consisted of 80 serum proteins that were not associated with DMD and either decreased or increased following treatment with glucocorticoids, and therefore were reflective of a broader effect of glucocorticoids. The second group consisted of 17 serum proteins that were associated with DMD and these tended to normalize under treatment, thus reflecting physiologic effects of glucocorticoid treatment in DMD. In summary, we have identified a variety of circulating protein biomarkers that reflect the complex nature of DMD pathogenesis and response to glucocorticoids.
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