Distinct Muscle Apoptotic Pathways are Activated in Muscles with Different Fiber Types in a Rat Model of Critical Illness Myopathy

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Critical illness myopathy (CIM) is associated with severe muscle atrophy and fatigue in affected patients. Apoptotic signaling is involved in atrophy and is elevated in muscles from patients with CIM. In this study we investigated underlying mechanisms of apoptosis-related pathways in muscles with different fiber type composition in a rat model of CIM using denervation and glucocorticoid administration (denervation and steroid-induced myopathy, DSIM). Soleus and tibialis anterior (TA) muscles showed severe muscle atrophy (40–60 % of control muscle weight) and significant apoptosis in interstitial as well as myofiber nuclei that was similar between the two muscles with DSIM. Caspase-3 and -8 activities, but not caspase-9 and -12, were elevated in TA and not in soleus muscle, while the caspase-independent proteins endonuclease G (EndoG) and apoptosis inducing factor (AIF) were not changed in abundance nor differentially localized in either muscle. Anti-apoptotic proteins HSP70, -27, and apoptosis repressor with a caspase recruitment domain (ARC) were elevated in soleus compared to TA muscle and ARC was significantly decreased with induction of DSIM in soleus. Results indicate that apoptosis is a significant process associated with DSIM in both soleus and TA muscles, and that apoptosis-associated processes are differentially regulated in muscles of different function and fiber type undergoing atrophy due to DSIM. We conclude that interventions combating apoptosis with CIM may need to be directed towards inhibiting caspase-dependent as well as -independent mechanisms to be able to affect muscles of all fiber types.



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