Muscular atrophy is a debilitating process that results in an extensive loss of muscle mass and function, which greatly worsens quality of life. It occurs in diseases such as cancer, diabetes, AIDS and heart failure, negatively affecting the patients' prognosis.
Also, muscular atrophy can occur with aging, inadequate food intake such as in anorexia nervosa, or disuse (in those who are bedridden or who must keep a limb immobile) or as a side effect of glucocorticoid steroid therapy. Nerve injury also triggers severe muscular atrophy.
Currently, there are few options to treat the problem. Some of the treatments, such as anabolic steroids (testosterone) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IFG-1), raise concerns about safety and effectiveness, said study co-author Andrea Graziani, PhD. He is a molecular biologist with the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine and the Biotechnology Center for Applied Medical Research, University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy.
"Because of the wide impact of muscular atrophy on public health, it is of pivotal importance to find new and better drug strategies to treat it," Graziani said.
Graziani and his co-workers are studying des-acyl ghrelin, a form of ghrelin, the appetite-stimulating hormone found in the body. Until recently, researchers thought that des-acyl ghrelin was inactive because it does not share the main activities of ghrelin—stimulating appetite, fat and the release of growth hormone.
However, Graziani's group recently found that des-acyl ghrelin shares some biological activities with ghrelin, such as stimulating differentiation of other cells, including—important to this study—cells that are precursors to skeletal muscle cells.
In this new study, the researchers discovered that des-acyl ghrelin has a direct anti-atrophic activity on the skeletal muscle of mice with muscular atrophy caused by either denervation (nerve injury) or fasting. Mice that were genetically altered to have increased levels of des-acyl ghrelin had less skeletal muscle loss than the untreated control mice. This held true for both causes of muscular atrophy.
The mechanism by which des-acyl ghrelin protects muscle against atrophy is not yet known, the authors reported. However, it is distinct from the action of anabolic steroids and IGF-1.
The following Italian agencies supported this work: Telethon, Regione Piemonte, and Italian Ministry for University and Research. Nicoletta Filigheddu, a researcher at the University of Piemonte Orientale's Biotechnology Center, will present the study's findings.
Aaron Lohr | EurekAlert!
Electrical 'switch' in brain's capillary network monitors activity and controls blood flow
27.03.2017 | Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont
Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm
24.03.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences