Fluoxetine prevents dystrophic changes in a zebrafish model of duchenne muscular dystrophy

Trent A. Waugh, Eric Horstick, Junguk Hur, Samuel W. Jackson, Ann E. Davidson, Xingli Li, James J. Dowling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Duchenne muscular dystrophy(DMD)is a common and relentlessly progressive muscle disease.Some interventions have been identified that modestly slow progression and prolong survival, but more meaningful therapies are lacking. The goal of this study is to identify new therapeutic pathways for DMD using a zebrafish model of the disease. To accomplish this, we performed a non-biased drug screen in sapje, a zebrafish line with a recessive nonsense mutation in dystrophin. We identified 6 positive hits (out of 640 total drugs tested) by their ability to prevent abnormal birefringence in sapje. Follow-up analyses demonstrated that fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), provided the most substantial benefit. Morpholino-based experimentation confirmed that modulation of the serotonin pathway alone can prevent the dystrophic phenotype, and transcriptomic analysis revealed changes in calcium homeostasis as a potential mechanism. In all, we demonstrate that monoamine agonists can prevent disease in a vertebrate model of DMD. Given the safe and widespread use of SSRIs in clinical practice, our study identifies an attractive target pathway for therapy development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberddu185
Pages (from-to)4651-4662
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Molecular Genetics
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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