P2X7 receptor antagonist reduces fibrosis and inflammation in a mouse model of alpha-sarcoglycan muscular dystrophy


  • L. Raffaghello
  • E. Principi
  • S. Baratto
  • C. Panicucci
  • S. Pintus
  • F. Antonini
  • G. Del Zotto
  • A. Benzi
  • S. Bruzzone
  • P. Scudieri
  • C. Minetti
  • E. Gazzerro
  • C. Bruno


  • Pharmaceuticals


  • Pharmaceuticals 15 (1): 89


  • Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy R3, a rare genetic disorder affecting the limb proximal muscles, is caused by mutations in the α-sarcoglycan gene (Sgca) and aggravated by an immune-mediated damage, finely modulated by the extracellular (e)ATP/purinoceptors axis. Currently, no specific drugs are available. The aim of this study was to evaluate the therapeutic effectiveness of a selective P2X7 purinoreceptor antagonist, A438079. Sgca knockout mice were treated with A438079 every two days at 3 mg/Kg for 24 weeks. The P2X7 antagonist improved clinical parameters by ameliorating mice motor function and decreasing serum creatine kinase levels. Histological analysis of muscle morphology indicated a significant reduction of the percentage of central nuclei, of fiber size variability and of the extent of local fibrosis and inflammation. A cytometric characterization of the muscle inflammatory infiltrates showed that A438079 significantly decreased innate immune cells and upregulated the immunosuppressive regulatory T cell subpopulation. In α-sarcoglycan null mice, the selective P2X7 antagonist A438079 has been shown to be effective to counteract the progression of the dystrophic phenotype and to reduce the inflammatory response. P2X7 antagonism via selective inhibitors could be included in the immunosuppressant strategies aimed to dampen the basal immune-mediated damage and to favor a better engraftment of gene-cell therapies.