Acute inhibition of myostatin-family proteins preserves skeletal muscle in mouse models of cancer cachexia

Margaret E. Benny Klimek, Tufan Aydogdu, Majik J. Link, Marianne Pons, Leonidas G. Koniaris, Teresa A. Zimmers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

139 Scopus citations


Cachexia, progressive loss of fat and muscle mass despite adequate nutrition, is a devastating complication of cancer associated with poor quality of life and increased mortality. Myostatin is a potent tonic muscle growth inhibitor. We tested how myostatin inhibition might influence cancer cachexia using genetic and pharmacological approaches. First, hypermuscular myostatin null mice were injected with Lewis lung carcinoma or B16F10 melanoma cells. Myostatin null mice were more sensitive to tumor-induced cachexia, losing more absolute mass and proportionately more muscle mass than wild-type mice. Because myostatin null mice lack expression from development, however, we also sought to manipulate myostatin acutely. The histone deacetylase inhibitor Trichostatin A has been shown to increase muscle mass in normal and dystrophic mice by inducing the myostatin inhibitor, follistatin. Although Trichostatin A administration induced muscle growth in normal mice, it failed to preserve muscle in colon-26 cancer cachexia. Finally we sought to inhibit myostatin and related ligands by administration of the Activin receptor extracellular domain/Fc fusion protein, ACVR2B-Fc. Systemic administration of ACVR2B-Fc potently inhibited muscle wasting and protected adipose stores in both colon-26 and Lewis lung carcinoma cachexia, without affecting tumor growth. Enhanced cachexia in myostatin knockouts indicates that host-derived myostatin is not the sole mediator of muscle wasting in cancer. More importantly, skeletal muscle preservation with ACVR2B-Fc establishes that targeting myostatin-family ligands using ACVR2B-Fc or related molecules is an important and potent therapeutic avenue in cancer cachexia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1548-1554
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 15 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • ACVR2B
  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Myostatin
  • Skeletal muscle atrophy
  • Trichostatin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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