Serum Antibodies to N-Glycolylneuraminic Acid Are Elevated in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Correlate with Increased Disease Pathology in Cmah−/−mdx Mice

Paul T. Martin, Kunio Kawanishi, Anna Ashbrook, Bethannie Golden, Annie Samraj, Kelly E. Crowe, Deborah A. Zygmunt, Jonathan Okerblom, Hai Yu, Agatha Maki, Sandra Diaz, Xi Chen, Paul M.L. Janssen, Ajit Varki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Humans cannot synthesize the common mammalian sialic acid N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc) because of an inactivating deletion in the cytidine-5'-monophospho-(CMP)–N-acetylneuraminic acid hydroxylase (CMAH) gene responsible for its synthesis. Human Neu5Gc deficiency can lead to development of anti-Neu5Gc serum antibodies, the levels of which can be affected by Neu5Gc-containing diets and by disease. Metabolic incorporation of dietary Neu5Gc into human tissues in the face of circulating antibodies against Neu5Gc-bearing glycans is thought to exacerbate inflammation-driven diseases like cancer and atherosclerosis. Probing of sera with sialoglycan arrays indicated that patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) had a threefold increase in overall anti-Neu5Gc antibody titer compared with age-matched controls. These antibodies recognized a broad spectrum of Neu5Gc-containing glycans. Human-like inactivation of the Cmah gene in mice is known to modulate severity in a variety of mouse models of human disease, including the X chromosome–linked muscular dystrophy (mdx) model for DMD. Cmah−/−mdx mice can be induced to develop anti–Neu5Gc-glycan antibodies as humans do. The presence of anti-Neu5Gc antibodies, in concert with induced Neu5Gc expression, correlated with increased severity of disease pathology in Cmah−/−mdx mice, including increased muscle fibrosis, expression of inflammatory markers in the heart, and decreased survival. These studies suggest that patients with DMD who harbor anti-Neu5Gc serum antibodies might exacerbate disease severity when they ingest Neu5Gc-rich foods, like red meats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1474-1486
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Volume191
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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