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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2012 Jan 1;302(1):L103-10. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00084.2011. Epub 2011 Oct 14.

NF-κB activation and polyubiquitin conjugation are required for pulmonary inflammation-induced diaphragm atrophy.

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  • 1Department of Respiratory Medicine, NUTRIM School for Nutrition, Toxicology and Metabolism, Maastricht University Medical Centre, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


Loss of diaphragm muscle strength in inflammatory lung disease contributes to mortality and is associated with diaphragm fiber atrophy. Ubiquitin (Ub) 26S-proteasome system (UPS)-dependent protein breakdown, which mediates muscle atrophy in a number of physiological and pathological conditions, is elevated in diaphragm muscle of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), an essential regulator of many inflammatory processes, has been implicated in the regulation of poly-Ub conjugation of muscle proteins targeted for proteolysis by the UPS. Here, we test if NF-κB activation in diaphragm muscle and subsequent protein degradation by the UPS are required for pulmonary inflammation-induced diaphragm atrophy. Acute pulmonary inflammation was induced in mice by intratracheal lipopolysaccharide instillation. Fiber cross-sectional area, ex vivo tyrosine release, protein poly-Ub conjugation, and inflammatory signaling were determined in diaphragm muscle. The contribution of NF-κB or the UPS to diaphragm atrophy was assessed in mice with intact or genetically repressed NF-κB signaling or attenuated poly-Ub conjugation, respectively. Acute pulmonary inflammation resulted in diaphragm atrophy measured by reduced muscle fiber cross-sectional area. This was accompanied by diaphragm NF-κB activation, and proteolysis, measured by tyrosine release from the diaphragm. Poly-Ub conjugation was increased in diaphragm, as was the expression of muscle-specific E3 Ub ligases. Genetic suppression of poly-Ub conjugation prevented inflammation-induced diaphragm muscle atrophy, as did muscle-specific inhibition of NF-κB signaling. In conclusion, the present study is the first to demonstrate that diaphragm muscle atrophy, resulting from acute pulmonary inflammation, requires NF-κB activation and UPS-mediated protein degradation.

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