Investigation of the effect of taurine supplementation on muscle taurine content in the mdx mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy using chemically specific synchrotron imaging†
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a lethal genetic muscle wasting disorder, which currently has no cure. Supplementation with the drug taurine has been shown to offer therapeutic benefit in the mdx model for DMD, however the mechanism by which taurine protects dystrophic muscle is not fully understood. Mdx muscle is deficient in taurine, however it is not known if this deficiency occurs in the extracellular space, in other cells present in the tissue (such as immune cells) or in the myofibre itself. Likewise, the tissue location of taurine enrichment in taurine treated mdx muscle is not known. In this study we applied X-ray absorption near edge spectroscopy (XANES) at the sulfur K-edge in an imaging format to determine taurine distribution in muscle tissue. XANES is the only technique currently capable of imaging taurine directly in muscle tissue, at a spatial resolution approaching myocyte cell size (20–50 μm). Using a multi-modal approach of XANES imaging and histology on the same tissue sections, we show that in mdx muscle, it is the myofibres that are deficient in taurine, and taurine supplementation ameliorates this deficiency. Increasing the taurine content of mdx myofibres was associated with a decrease in myofibre damage (as shown by the percentage of intact myofibres) and inflammation. These data will help drive future studies to better elucidate the molecular mechanisms through which taurine protects dystrophic muscle; they also support the continued investigation of taurine as a therapeutic intervention for DMD.