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A time course for markers of protein synthesis and degradation with hindlimb unloading and the accompanying anabolic resistance to refeeding.

  • Roberson, Paul A1
  • Shimkus, Kevin L1
  • Welles, Jaclyn E1
  • Xu, Dandan1
  • Whitsell, Abigale L1
  • Kimball, Eric M1
  • Jefferson, Leonard S1
  • Kimball, Scot R1
  • 1 Pennsylvania State University, Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Published Article
Journal of Applied Physiology
American Physiological Society
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2020
DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00155.2020
PMID: 32407240


Skeletal muscle atrophy is associated with disease, aging, and disuse. Hindlimb unloading (HU) in animals provides an experimental model to study muscle atrophy. A comprehensive time course for how HU affects biomarkers of protein synthesis and degradation acutely and chronically and the associated resistance to an anabolic stimulus following disuse remain undocumented. Sixteen-week-old C57BL/6 mice underwent 0, 1, 12, 24, 72, 168, or 336 h of HU. Following 336 h of HU, mice were reloaded for 1, 24, or 72 h. Another group of mice underwent 120 h of HU, were fasted or refed, and were then compared with similar condition control animals (CTL). Protein content and phosphorylation of biomarkers of protein synthesis, degradation, and autophagy were assessed in the soleus muscle. Gastrocnemius, soleus, and plantaris muscles atrophied within 120 h of HU. Protein synthesis trended toward decrease following 24 h of HU. p70S6K phosphorylation and protein synthesis increased with reloading. Following HU, changes in MAFbx and DEPTOR expression and DEPTOR phosphorylation were consistent with development of a catabolic state. DEPTOR expression recovered following reloading. Animals that underwent 120 h of HU exhibited attenuation of refeeding-induced p70S6K phosphorylation compared with CTL counterparts. Following 120 h of HU, protein synthesis, eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1 (4E-BP1) phosphorylation, and DEPTOR, MAFbx, and Sestrin1 expression indicated a catabolic state. Following 120 h of HU, autophagy markers, including p62 expression, REDD1 expression, LC3 ratio, and Unc-51-like autophagy-activating kinase 1 (ULK1) phosphorylation, indicated impaired autophagy. HU promotes a deleterious balance between protein synthesis and degradation. The time course herein provides scientists information about when the associated biomarkers become affected.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Hindlimb unloading causes significant skeletal muscle atrophy by adversely affecting the balance between protein synthesis and breakdown. This study demonstrates a more complete time course for changes in biomarkers associated with protein synthesis and breakdown and investigates the associated anabolic resistance to an anabolic stimulus following hindlimb unloading. These data in concert with information from other studies provide a basis for designing future experiments to optimally interrogate a desired cellular biomarker or pathway.

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