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J Med Food. 2018 Jun;21(6):551-559. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2017.4108. Epub 2018 Mar 23.

Quercetin Reduces Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha-Induced Muscle Atrophy by Upregulation of Heme Oxygenase-1.

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1 Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Ulsan , Ulsan, South Korea .
2 Department of Biological Science, University of Ulsan , Ulsan, South Korea .
3 Research Group of Nutrition and Metabolic System, Korea Food Research Institute , Seongnam, South Korea .


The inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα), upregulated in the obese condition, promotes protein degradation and is implicated in obesity-related skeletal muscle atrophy and age-related sarcopenia. Quercetin, a flavonoid, elicits antioxidative and anti-inflammatory activities. In this study, we investigated the effect of quercetin on TNFα-induced skeletal muscle atrophy as well as its potential mechanism of action. In this study, we observed that quercetin suppressed expression of TNFα-induced atrophic factors such as MAFbx/atrogin-1 and MuRF1 in myotubes, and it enhanced heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) protein level accompanied by increased nuclear translocation of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) in myotubes. The HO-1 inhibitor ZnPP suppressed the inhibitory actions of quercetin on TNFα-induced atrophic responses and degradation of IκB-α in myotubes. Moreover, quercetin supplementation to high-fat diet-fed obese mice inhibited obesity-induced atrophic responses in skeletal muscle, accompanied by upregulation of HO-1 and inactivation of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB), and the quercetin actions were attenuated in Nrf2-deficient mice. These findings suggest that quercetin protects against TNFα-induced muscle atrophy under obese conditions through Nrf2-mediated HO-1 induction accompanied by inactivation of NF-κB. Quercetin may be used as a dietary supplement to protect against obesity-induced skeletal muscle atrophy.


inflammation; muscle atrophy; obesity; quercetin

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