Loss of muscle mass occurs in a variety of diseases, including cancer, chronic heart failure, aquired immunodeficiency syndrome, diabetes, and renal failure, often aggravating pathological progression. Preventing muscle wasting by promoting muscle growth has been proposed as a possible therapeutic approach. Myostatin is an important negative modulator of muscle growth during myogenesis, and myostatin inhibitors are attractive drug targets. However, the role of the myostatin pathway in adulthood and the transcription factors involved in the signaling are unclear. Moreover, recent results confirm that other transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) members control muscle mass. Using genetic tools, we perturbed this pathway in adult myofibers, in vivo, to characterize the downstream targets and their ability to control muscle mass. Smad2 and Smad3 are the transcription factors downstream of myostatin/TGF-β and induce an atrophy program that is muscle RING-finger protein 1 (MuRF1) independent. Furthermore, Smad2/3 inhibition promotes muscle hypertrophy independent of satellite cells but partially dependent of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling. Thus myostatin and Akt pathways cross-talk at different levels. These findings point to myostatin inhibitors as good drugs to promote muscle growth during rehabilitation, especially when they are combined with IGF-1-Akt activators.

  • muscle atrophy
  • hypertrophy
  • Akt
  • myostatin
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