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A double-blind placebo controlled trial of diltiazem in duchenne dystrophy


The role of calcium accumulation in the pathogenesis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) has already been discussed. Several trials with different calcium-blocking drugs have revealed no clinical benefit. In addition, the present study includes histological investigations and computer tomography to verify therapeutic effects. In a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study, 13 DMD patients aged from 3–10 years (mean, 7 years) were treated with 5 mg/kg diltiazem daily for 1 year. Compared with before therapy, the number of calcium-positive muscular fibres was remarkably reduced in the treated DMD patients, but not in the placebo group. The evaluation of all other biochemical and clinical parameters revealed no significant effects of the diltiazem therapy. The muscularX-ray density measured by computer tomography decreased under treatment. After the evaluation of the double-blind study, the code was broken. Therapy, however, was continued in the treated group and started in the placebo group. After 3 years of diltiazem therapy the clinical status of all 26 patients of the study and 20 additional DMD patients who were treated with diltiazem was compared with 46 untreated DMD patients of the same age and stage in our department. No obvious clinical benefit of diltiazem therapy could be observed.

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Creatine kinase


Creatine kinase MB


Glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase


Glutamic-pyruvic transaminase


Lactate dehydrogenase




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Pernice, W., Beckmann, R., Ketelsen, U. et al. A double-blind placebo controlled trial of diltiazem in duchenne dystrophy. Klin Wochenschr 66, 565–570 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01720830

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Key words

  • Diltiazem
  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy