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Semin Nephrol. 2004 Sep;24(5):484-7.

Cellular mechanisms causing loss of muscle mass in kidney disease.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555, USA.


In stable adults or patients with kidney disease, the daily turnover of cellular proteins is very large, amounting to the quantity of protein in 1 to 1.5 kg of muscle. Consequently, even a small but persistent increase in protein degradation or decrease in protein synthesis leads to a substantial loss of muscle mass. In chronic kidney disease, the pathway that degrades muscle protein is the ubiquitin-proteasome system. We tested whether either of two complications of chronic kidney disease, metabolic acidosis or insulin resistance accelerates the loss of muscle protein. Metabolic acidosis activates the ubiquitin-proteasome system and this can explain an large number of clinical conditions in which metabolic acidosis also causes loss of muscle protein. Insulin deficiency as a model of insulin resistance also activates the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Both complications also activate caspase-3 and we found that this protease performs a critical initial step in breaking down the complex structure of muscle to provide actin, myosin and fragments of these proteins as substrates for the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Defects in insulin signalling processes can activate both caspase-3 and the ubiquitin-proteasome system to degrade muscle protein. Understanding mechanisms that activate protein breakdown will lead to therapies that successfully prevent the loss of muscle mass in patients with kidney disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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