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Restorative Mechanisms Regulating Protein Balance in Skeletal Muscle During Recovery From Sepsis

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Abstract

Muscle deconditioning is commonly observed in patients surviving sepsis. Little is known regarding the molecular mechanisms regulating muscle protein homeostasis during the recovery or convalescence phase. We adapted a sepsis-recovery mouse model that uses cecal ligation and puncture (CLP), followed 24 h later by cecal resection and antibiotic treatment, to identify putative cellular pathways regulating protein synthesis and breakdown in skeletal muscle. Ten days after CLP, body weight and food consumption did not differ between control and sepsis-recovery mice, but gastrocnemius weight was reduced. During sepsis-recovery, muscle protein synthesis was increased 2-fold and associated with enhanced mTOR kinase activity (4E-BP1 and S6K1 phosphorylation). The sepsis-induced increase in 4E-BP1 was associated with enhanced formation of the eIF4E-eIF4G active cap-dependent complex, while the increased S6K1 was associated with increased phosphorylation of downstream targets S6 and eIF4B. Proximal to mTOR, sepsis-recovery increased Akt and TSC2 phosphorylation, did not alter AMPK phosphorylation, and decreased REDD1 protein content. Despite the decreased mRNA content for the E3 ubiquitin ligases atrogin-1 and muscle RING-finger 1, proteasomal activity was increased 50%. In contrast, sepsis-recovery was associated with an apparent decrease in autophagy (e.g., increased ULK-1 phosphorylation, decreased LCB3-II, and increased p62). The mRNA content for IL-1β, IL-18, TNFα, and IL-6 in muscle was elevated in sepsis-recovery. During recovery after sepsis skeletal muscle responds with an increase in Akt-TSC2-mTOR-dependent protein synthesis and decreased autophagy, but full restoration of muscle protein content may be slowed by the continued stimulation of ubiquitin-proteasome activity.

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