Journal of Molecular Histology

, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 489–499

Early Onset of Lipofuscin Accumulation in Dystrophin-Deficient Skeletal Muscles of DMD Patients and mdx Mice


  • Yoshiko Nakae
    • Department of Oral Anatomy 1Tokushima University School of Dentistry
  • Peter J. Stoward
    • School of Life SciencesUniversity of Dundee
  • Tatsuo Kashiyama
    • General Laboratory for Medical ResearchTokushima University School of Medicine
  • Masayuki Shono
    • General Laboratory for Medical ResearchTokushima University School of Medicine
  • Akiko Akagi
    • Matsui Hospital/Japan Neurological Institute
  • Tetsuya Matsuzaki
    • Central Institute for Experimental Animals
  • Ikuya Nonaka
    • National Centre of Neurology and Psychiatry

DOI: 10.1023/B:HIJO.0000045947.83628.a7

Cite this article as:
Nakae, Y., Stoward, P.J., Kashiyama, T. et al. Histochem J (2004) 35: 489. doi:10.1023/B:HIJO.0000045947.83628.a7


Lipofuscin, the so-called ageing pigment, is formed by the oxidative degradation of cellular macromolecules by oxygen-derived free radicals and redox-active metal ions. Usually it accumulates in post-mitotic, long-lived cells such as neurons and cardiac muscle cells. In contrast, it is rarely seen in either normal or diseased skeletal muscle fibres. In this paper, we report that lipofuscin accumulates at an early age in both human and murine dystrophic muscles. Autofluorescent lipofuscin granules were localized, using confocal laser scanning microscopy and electron microscopy, in dystrophin-deficient skeletal muscles of X chromosome-linked young Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients and of mdx mice at various ages after birth. Age-matched normal controls were studied similarly. Autofluorescent lipofuscin granules were observed in dystrophic biceps brachii muscles of 2–7-year-old DMD patients where degeneration and regeneration of myofibres are active, but they were rarely seen in age-matched normal controls. In normal mice, lipofuscin first appears in diaphragm muscles nearly 20 weeks after birth but in mdx muscles it occurs much earlier, 4 weeks after birth, when the primary degeneration of dystrophin-deficient myofibres is at a peak. Lipofuscin accumulation increases with age in both mdx and normal controls and is always higher in dystrophic muscles than in age-matched normal controls. At the electron microscopical level, it was confirmed that the localisation of autofluorescent granules observed by light microscopy in dystrophin-deficient skeletal muscles coincided with lipofuscin granules in myofibres and myosatellite cells, and in macrophages accumulating around myofibres and in interstitial connective tissue. Our results agree with previous biochemical and histochemical data implying increased oxidative damages in DMD and mdx muscles. They indicate that dystrophin-deficient myofibres are either more susceptible to oxidative stress, or are subjected to higher intra- or extracellular oxidative stress than normal controls, or both.

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004