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BMC Cancer. 2016 Feb 8;16:75. doi: 10.1186/s12885-016-2121-8.

Molecular pathways leading to loss of skeletal muscle mass in cancer cachexia--can findings from animal models be translated to humans?

Author information

1
Department of Surgery, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, Ismaninger Strasse 22, D-81675, Munich, Germany. tara.mueller@tum.de.
2
Department of Surgery, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, Ismaninger Strasse 22, D-81675, Munich, Germany.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Cachexia is a multi-factorial, systemic syndrome that especially affects patients with cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, and leads to reduced treatment response, survival and quality of life. The most important clinical feature of cachexia is the excessive wasting of skeletal muscle mass. Currently, an effective treatment is still lacking and the search for therapeutic targets continues. Even though a substantial number of animal studies have contributed to a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the loss of skeletal muscle mass, subsequent clinical trials of potential new drugs have not yet yielded any effective treatment for cancer cachexia. Therefore, we questioned to which degree findings from animal studies can be translated to humans in clinical practice and research.

DISCUSSION:

A substantial amount of animal studies on the molecular mechanisms of muscle wasting in cancer cachexia has been conducted in recent years. This extensive review of the literature showed that most of their observations could not be consistently reproduced in studies on human skeletal muscle samples. However, studies on human material are scarce and limited in patient numbers and homogeneity. Therefore, their results have to be interpreted critically. More research is needed on human tissue samples to clarify the signaling pathways that lead to skeletal muscle loss, and to confirm pre-selected drug targets from animal models in clinical trials. In addition, improved diagnostic tools and standardized clinical criteria for cancer cachexia are needed to conduct standardized, randomized controlled trials of potential drug candidates in the future.

PMID:
26856534
PMCID:
PMC4746781
DOI:
10.1186/s12885-016-2121-8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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