Celebrex (celecoxib), an FDA-approved anti-inflammatory and pain reliever marketed by Pfizer, showed an ability to improve strength and function in leg, heart and diaphragm muscles of an animal model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a study found.
Mice treated daily for one month with celecoxib also showed increases in utrophin A, a protein that can compensate for the lack of dystrophin, the protein missing or insufficient in DMD patients.
The research team, led by Bernard Jasmin, a professor of cellular and molecular medicine at the University of Ottawa, published these findings in The FASEB Journal, in a study titled “Celecoxib treatment improves muscle function in mdx mice and increases utrophin A expression”.
DMD is a genetic and progressive muscular disorder caused by the defective production of the dystrophin protein. DMD is the most common form of muscular dystrophy, affecting one in 3,500 male live births, and no cure has been found yet.
Jasmin and his research team have previously reported a successful strategy to increase utrophin A in the muscles of a DMD mouse model, by treating the animals with heparin, an anticoagulant naturally produced by immune system cells.
The researchers decided to investigate if others compounds, like celecoxib, might do the same.
Working again in a mouse model of DMD, called mdx mice, they treated the animals daily with either a low dose of the medication or a control solution for four weeks.
Results showed a significant improvement in muscle function, strength and integrity in treated mice compared to control mice, and changes somewhat comparable to those of healthy mice.
Importantly, treated mice had increased utrophin A protein levels that were 1.5- to two-fold that of to control group in muscles of the tibialis anterior (leg muscle), diaphragm and heart.
“Celecoxib treatment in this mdx mouse model increased utrophin expression levels in a variety of muscles … all while improving overall muscle function,” Jasmin said in a news release written by Zara Kassam. “This animal study points to the potential of Celecoxib to improve cardiac and respiratory function for DMD patients, as well as independent ambulation.”
Celebrex is approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and short-term (or acute) pain.