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Sepsis increases the expression and activity of the transcription factor Forkhead Box O 1 (FOXO1) in skeletal muscle by a glucocorticoid-dependent mechanism

The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.biocel.2010.01.006
  • Foxo Transcription Factors
  • Muscle Wasting
  • Ubiquitin Ligases
  • Atrogin-1
  • Murf1
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract Sepsis-induced muscle wasting has severe clinical consequences, including muscle weakness, need for prolonged ventilatory support and stay in the intensive care unit, and delayed ambulation with risk for pulmonary and thromboembolic complications. Understanding molecular mechanisms regulating loss of muscle mass in septic patients therefore has significant clinical implications. Forkhead Box O (FOXO) transcription factors have been implicated in muscle wasting, partly reflecting upregulation of the ubiquitin ligases atrogin-1 and MuRF1. The influence of sepsis on FOXO transcription factors in skeletal muscle is poorly understood. We tested the hypothesis that sepsis upregulates expression and activity of FOXO transcription factors in skeletal muscle by a glucocorticoid-dependent mechanism. Sepsis in rats increased muscle FOXO1 and 3a mRNA and protein levels but did not influence FOXO4 expression. Nuclear FOXO1 levels and DNA binding activity were increased in septic muscle whereas FOXO3a nuclear levels were not increased during sepsis. Sepsis-induced expression of FOXO1 was reduced by the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU38486 and treatment of rats with dexamethasone increased FOXO1 mRNA levels suggesting that the expression of FOXO1 is regulated by glucocorticoids. Reducing FOXO1, but not FOXO3a, expression by siRNA in cultured L6 myotubes inhibited dexamethasone-induced atrogin-1 and MuRF1 expression, further supporting a role of FOXO1 in glucocorticoid-regulated muscle wasting. Results suggest that sepsis increases FOXO1 expression and activity in skeletal muscle by a glucocorticoid-dependent mechanism and that glucocorticoid-dependent upregulation of atrogin-1 and MuRF1 in skeletal muscle is regulated by FOXO1. The study is significant because it provides novel information about molecular mechanisms involved in sepsis-induced muscle wasting.

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