No workout? No worries: Scientists prevent muscle loss in mice, despite disease and inactivity

If you want big muscles without working out, there's hope. In the March 2012 print issue of the FASEB Journal, scientists from the University of Florida report that a family of protein transcription factors, called "Forkhead (Fox0)" plays a significant role in the regulation of skeletal muscle mass. Specifically, they found that interfering with the activity of these transcription factors prevents muscle wasting associated with cancer and sepsis, and even promotes muscle growth. This discovery is likely to be relevant to any disease, condition or lifestyle that leads to muscle wasting, including voluntary inactivity.

"The loss of muscle mass is a major contributor to disease-related deaths," said Andrew R. Judge, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Florida in Gainesville. "FoxO proteins may provide a target for therapies aimed at reducing muscle wasting and thus improving the quality of life and for patients with many different diseases."

To make this discovery, Judge and colleagues genetically inhibited the activity of "Forkhead boxO" proteins, or "FoxO," in the skeletal muscle of healthy control mice, septic mice, and mice with cancer. The loss of muscle mass in those with cancer and sepsis was significantly decreased by inhibition of FoxO activity. In healthy control animals inhibiting FoxO activity caused an increase in muscle cell size which occurred as a result of .

"No one can deny that the human body was meant to move, and to move often," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the , "but the reality is that many of us don't move enough, whether because of disease, injury, or simply a busy schedule. This discovery is another important step towards the treatment of muscle wasting in cancer, severe infection or aging – or to maintain our muscle mass to help face the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."

More information: Sarah A. Reed, Pooja B. Sandesara, Sarah M. Senf, and Andrew R. Judge. Inhibition of FoxO transcriptional activity prevents muscle fiber atrophy during cachexia and induces hypertrophy. FASEB J March 2012 26:987-1000; doi:10.1096/fj.11-189977

Related Stories

Heavy lifting for cancer research

Feb 09, 2012

Many patients with advanced cancer suffer from cachexia, a condition also called body-wasting or wasting syndrome, which causes significant weight loss, extreme fatigue and reduces quality of life.

New clues to muscle wasting in elderly people

Feb 24, 2012

Permanent disconnection between nerves and muscles may be the reason behind progressive loss of muscle mass and function in elderly people, Perth-based researchers have found.

Lift weights, eat mustard, build muscles?

Sep 29, 2011

New research in The FASEB Journal suggests that rats fed homobrassinolide, found in the mustard plant, produced an anabolic effect, and increased appetite and muscle mass, as well as the number and size of muscle fibers.

Recommended for you

Gene mutation discovered in blood disorder

13 minutes ago

An international team of scientists has identified a gene mutation that causes aplastic anemia, a serious blood disorder in which the bone marrow fails to produce normal amounts of blood cells. Studying a family in which ...

Airway muscle-on-a-chip mimics asthma

2 hours ago

The majority of drugs used to treat asthma today are the same ones that were used 50 years ago. New drugs are urgently needed to treat this chronic respiratory disease, which causes nearly 25 million people ...

Lost protein could prevent hardening of the arteries

6 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers have found that when the protein matrix metalloproteinase-14 (MMP-14) is reduced or lost, white blood cells, known as macrophages, become good and could prevent hardening of ...

User comments