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FASEB J. 2012 Mar;26(3):987-1000. doi: 10.1096/fj.11-189977. Epub 2011 Nov 18.

Inhibition of FoxO transcriptional activity prevents muscle fiber atrophy during cachexia and induces hypertrophy.

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  • 1Department of Physical Therapy, 101 S. Newell Dr., University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.


Cachexia is characterized by inexorable muscle wasting that significantly affects patient prognosis and increases mortality. Therefore, understanding the molecular basis of this muscle wasting is of significant importance. Recent work showed that components of the forkhead box O (FoxO) pathway are increased in skeletal muscle during cachexia. In the current study, we tested the physiological significance of FoxO activation in the progression of muscle atrophy associated with cachexia. FoxO-DNA binding dependent transcription was blocked in the muscles of mice through injection of a dominant negative (DN) FoxO expression plasmid prior to inoculation with Lewis lung carcinoma cells or the induction of sepsis. Expression of DN FoxO inhibited the increased mRNA levels of atrogin-1, MuRF1, cathepsin L, and/or Bnip3 and inhibited muscle fiber atrophy during cancer cachexia and sepsis. Interestingly, during control conditions, expression of DN FoxO decreased myostatin expression, increased MyoD expression and satellite cell proliferation, and induced fiber hypertrophy, which required de novo protein synthesis. Collectively, these data show that FoxO-DNA binding-dependent transcription is necessary for normal muscle fiber atrophy during cancer cachexia and sepsis, and further suggest that basal levels of FoxO play an important role during normal conditions to depress satellite cell activation and limit muscle growth.

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