The occurrence of skeletal muscle atrophy, a devastating complication of a large number of disease states and inactivity/disuse conditions, provides a never ending quest to identify novel targets for its therapy. Proinflammatory cytokines are considered the mediators of muscle wasting in chronic diseases; however, their role in disuse atrophy has just begun to be elucidated. An inflammatory cytokine, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)- like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK), has recently been identified as a potent inducer of skeletal muscle wasting. TWEAK activates various proteolytic pathways and stimulates the degradation of myofibril protein both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, TWEAK mediates the loss of skeletal muscle mass and function in response to denervation, a model of disuse atrophy. Adult skeletal muscle express very low to minimal levels of TWEAK receptor, Fn14. Specific catabolic conditions such as denervation, immobilization, or unloading rapidly increase the expression of Fn14 in skeletal muscle which in turn stimulates the TWEAK activation of various catabolic pathways leading to muscle atrophy. In this article, we have discussed the emerging roles and the mechanisms of action of TWEAK-Fn14 system in skeletal muscle with particular reference to different models of muscle atrophy and injury and its potential to be used as a therapeutic target for prevention of muscle loss.
Keywords: Denervation, disuse, inflammation, MuRF1, NF-kappa B, skeletal muscle, TWEAK, immobilization, glucocorticoid therapy, muscle atrophy, proteolytic systems, ubiquitin-proteasome system, autophagy, inflammatory cytokines, syndrome of cachexia
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