Inflammation and Skeletal Muscle Wasting During Cachexia

Justine M. Webster, Laura J. A. P. Kempen, Rowan S. Hardy, Ramon C. J. Langen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Cachexia is the involuntary loss of muscle and adipose tissue that strongly affects mortality and treatment efficacy in patients with cancer or chronic inflammatory disease. Currently, no specific treatments or interventions are available for patients developing this disorder. Given the well-documented involvement of pro-inflammatory cytokines in muscle and fat metabolism in physiological responses and in the pathophysiology of chronic inflammatory disease and cancer, considerable interest has revolved around their role in mediating cachexia. This has been supported by association studies that report increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in some, but not all, cancers and in chronic inflammatory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In addition, preclinical studies including animal disease models have provided a substantial body of evidence implicating a causal contribution of systemic inflammation to cachexia. The presence of inflammatory cytokines can affect skeletal muscle through several direct mechanisms, relying on activation of the corresponding receptor expressed by muscle, and resulting in inhibition of muscle protein synthesis (MPS), elevation of catabolic activity through the ubiquitin-proteasomal system (UPS) and autophagy, and impairment of myogenesis. Additionally, systemic inflammatory mediators indirectly contribute to muscle wasting through dysregulation of tissue and organ systems, including GCs via the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the digestive system leading to anorexia-cachexia, and alterations in liver and adipocyte behavior, which subsequently impact on muscle. Finally, myokines secreted by skeletal muscle itself in response to inflammation have been implicated as autocrine and endocrine mediators of cachexia, as well as potential modulators of this debilitating condition. While inflammation has been shown to play a pivotal role in cachexia development, further understanding how these cytokines contribute to disease progression is required to reveal biomarkers or diagnostic tools to help identify at risk patients, or enable the design of targeted therapies to prevent or delay the progression of cachexia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number597675
Number of pages22
JournalFrontiers in physiology
Volume11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2020

Keywords

  • cachexia
  • inflammation
  • muscle wasting
  • atrophy
  • cancer
  • COPD
  • cytokines
  • TUMOR-NECROSIS-FACTOR
  • NF-KAPPA-B
  • OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY-DISEASE
  • RESTING ENERGY-EXPENDITURE
  • PITUITARY-ADRENAL AXIS
  • ANTI-INTERLEUKIN-6 RECEPTOR ANTIBODY
  • UBIQUITIN-PROTEASOME SYSTEM
  • BROWN ADIPOSE-TISSUE
  • FACTOR-ALPHA LEVELS
  • CANCER CACHEXIA

Cite this