Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a lethal X-linked pathology due to lack of dystrophin and characterized by progressive muscle degeneration, impaired locomotion and premature death. The chronic presence of inflammatory cells, fibrosis and fat deposition are hallmarks of DMD muscle tissue. Many different therapeutic approaches to DMD have been tested, including cell-based and gene-based approaches, exon skipping, induction of expression of the dystrophin paralogue, utrophin, and, most recently the application of the CASPR/Cas9 genome editing system. However, corticosteroid treatment remains the gold standard therapy, even if corticosteroids have shown multiple undesirable side effects. Sertoli cells (SeC) have long been known for their ability to produce immunomodulatory and trophic factors, and have been used in a plethora of experimental models of disease. Recently, microencapsulated porcine SeC (MC-SeC) injected intraperitoneally in dystrophic mice produced morphological and functional benefits in muscles thanks to their release into the circulation of anti-inflammatory factors and heregulin β1, a known inducer of utrophin expression, thus opening a new avenue in the treatment of DMD. In order to stress the potentiality of the use of MC-SeC in the treatment of DMD, here, we examine the principal therapeutic approaches to DMD, and the properties of SeC (either nude or encapsulated into alginate-based microcapsules) and their preclinical and clinical use. Finally, we discuss the potential and future development of this latter approach.
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