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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2010 Mar;298(3):C542-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00192.2009. Epub 2009 Dec 2.

p38 MAPK links oxidative stress to autophagy-related gene expression in cachectic muscle wasting.

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  • 1Exercise Biochemistry Laboratory, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA. joseph.mcclung@duke.edu


Oxidative stress is a primary trigger of cachectic muscle wasting, but the signaling pathway(s) that links it to the muscle wasting processes remains to be defined. Here, we report that activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) (phosphorylation) and increased oxidative stress (trans-4-hydroxy-2-nonenal protein modification) in skeletal muscle occur as early as 8 h after lipopolysaccharide (1 mg/kg) and 24 h after dexamethasone (25 mg/kg) injection (intraperitoneal) in mice, concurrent with upregulation of autophagy-related genes, Atg6, Atg7, and Atg12. Treating cultured C2C12 myotubes with oxidant hydrogen peroxide (4 h) resulted in increased p38 phosphorylation and reduced FoxO3 phosphorylation along with induced Atg7 mRNA expression without activation of NF-kappaB or FoxO3a transcriptional activities. Furthermore, inhibition of p38alpha/beta by SB202190 blocked hydrogen peroxide-induced atrophy with diminished upregulation of Atg7 and atrogenes [muscle atrophy F-box protein (MAFbx/Atrogin-1), muscle ring finger protein 1 (MuRF-1), and Nedd4]. These findings provide direct evidence for p38alpha/beta MAPK in mediating oxidative stress-induced autophagy-related genes, suggesting that p38alpha/beta MAPK regulates both the ubiquitin-proteasome and the autophagy-lysosome systems in muscle wasting.

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