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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Glucocorticoid-induced skeletal muscle atrophy is associated with upregulation of myostatin gene expression.

The mechanisms by which excessive glucocorticoids cause muscular atrophy remain unclear. We previously demonstrated that dexamethasone increases the expression of myostatin, a negative regulator of skeletal muscle mass, in vitro. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that dexamethasone-induced muscle loss is associated with increased myostatin expression in vivo. Daily administration (60, 600, 1,200 micro g/kg body wt) of dexamethasone for 5 days resulted in rapid, dose-dependent loss of body weight (-4.0, -13.4, -17.2%, respectively, P < 0.05 for each comparison), and muscle atrophy (6.3, 15.0, 16.6% below controls, respectively). These changes were associated with dose-dependent, marked induction of intramuscular myostatin mRNA (66.3, 450, 527.6% increase above controls, P < 0.05 for each comparison) and protein expression (0.0, 260.5, 318.4% increase above controls, P < 0.05). We found that the effect of dexamethasone on body weight and muscle loss and upregulation of intramuscular myostatin expression was time dependent. When dexamethasone treatment (600 micro g. kg-1. day-1) was extended from 5 to 10 days, the rate of body weight loss was markedly reduced to approximately 2% within this extended period. The concentrations of intramuscular myosin heavy chain type II in dexamethasone-treated rats were significantly lower (-43% after 5-day treatment, -14% after 10-day treatment) than their respective corresponding controls. The intramuscular myostatin concentration in rats treated with dexamethasone for 10 days returned to basal level. Concurrent treatment with RU-486 blocked dexamethasone-induced myostatin expression and significantly attenuated body loss and muscle atrophy. We propose that dexamethasone-induced muscle loss is mediated, at least in part, by the upregulation of myostatin expression through a glucocorticoid receptor-mediated pathway.[1]


  1. Glucocorticoid-induced skeletal muscle atrophy is associated with upregulation of myostatin gene expression. Ma, K., Mallidis, C., Bhasin, S., Mahabadi, V., Artaza, J., Gonzalez-Cadavid, N., Arias, J., Salehian, B. Am. J. Physiol. Endocrinol. Metab. (2003) [Pubmed]
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