Use of the six-minute walk test to characterize golden retriever muscular dystrophy

Research paper by Austin R. Acosta, Emiko Van Wie, William B. Stoughton, Amanda K. Bettis, Heather H. Barnett, Nicholas R. LaBrie, Cynthia J. Balog-Alvarez, Peter P. Nghiem, Kevin J. Cummings, Joe N. Kornegay

Indexed on: 12 Oct '16Published on: 03 Oct '16Published in: Neuromuscular Disorders


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked recessive disorder in which loss of the dystrophin protein causes progressive skeletal/cardiac muscle degeneration and death within the third decade. For clinical trials and supportive animal studies, DMD disease progression and response to treatment must be established using outcome parameters (biomarkers). The 6-minute walk test (6MWT), defined as the distance an individual can walk in 6 minutes, is commonly used in DMD clinical trials and has been employed in dogs to characterize cardiac and respiratory disease severity. Building on methods established in DMD and canine clinical studies, we assessed the 6MWT in dogs with the DMD genetic homologue, golden retriever muscular dystrophy (GRMD). Twenty-one cross-bred golden retrievers were categorized as affected (DMD mutation and GRMD phenotype), carrier (female heterozygous DMD mutation and no phenotype), and normal (wild type DMD gene and no phenotype). When compared to grouped normal/carrier dogs, GRMD dogs walked shorter height-adjusted distances at 6 and 12 months of age and their distances walked declined with age. Change in creatine kinase percentage after 6MWT was greater in GRMD versus normal/carrier dogs at 6 months, providing another potential biomarker. While these data generally support use of the 6MWT as a biomarker for preclinical GRMD treatment trials, there were certain limitations. Results of the 6MWT did not correlate with other outcome parameters for GRMD dogs when considered alone and an 80% increase in mean distance walked would be necessary to achieve satisfactory power.