Abstract:Dysferlinopathies are a non-lethal group of late-onset muscular dystrophies. Here, we evaluated the fusion ability of primary myoblasts from young dysf(-/-) mice and the muscle histopathology prior to, and during early stages of disease onset. The ability of primary myoblasts of 5-week-old dysf(-/-) mice to form large myotubes was delayed compared to their wild-type counterparts, as evaluated by scanning electron microscopy. However, their fusion activity, as reflected by the presence of actin filaments connecting several cells, was enhanced by the antifibrotic drug halofuginone. Early dystrophic signs were already apparent in 4-week-old dysf(-/-) mice; their collagen level was double that in wild-type mice and continued to rise until 5 months of age. Continuous treatment with halofuginone from 4 weeks to 5 months of age reduced muscle fibrosis in a phosphorylated-Smad3 inhibition-related manner. Halofuginone also enhanced myofiber hypertrophy, reduced the percentage of centrally nucleated myofibers, and increased muscle performance. Together, the data suggest an inhibitory effect of halofuginone on the muscle histopathology at very early stages of dysferlinopathy, and enhancement of muscle performance. These results offer new opportunities for early pharmaceutical treatment in dysferlinopathies with favorable outcomes at later stages of life. (C) 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.