Treatment of rats with calpain inhibitors prevents sepsis-induced muscle proteolysis independent of atrogin-1/MAFbx and MuRF1 expression

Moin U. Fareed, Amy R. Evenson, Wei Wei, Michael Menconi, Vitaliy Poylin, Victoria Petkova, Bernadette Pignol, Per Olof Hasselgren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Muscle wasting in sepsis is a significant clinical problem because it results in muscle weakness and fatigue that may delay ambulation and increase the risk for thromboembolic and pulmonary complications. Treatments aimed at preventing or reducing muscle wasting in sepsis, therefore, may have important clinical implications. Recent studies suggest that sepsis-induced muscle proteolysis may be initiated by calpain-dependent release of myofilaments from the sarcomere, followed by ubiquitination and degradation of the myofilaments by the 26S proteasome. In the present experiments, treatment of rats with one of the calpain inhibitors calpeptin or BN82270 inhibited protein breakdown in muscles from rats made septic by cecal ligation and puncture. The inhibition of protein breakdown was not accompanied by reduced expression of the ubiquitin ligases atrogin-1/MAFbx and MuRF1, suggesting that the ubiquitin-proteasome system is regulated independent of the calpain system in septic muscle. When incubated muscles were treated in vitro with calpain inhibitor, protein breakdown rates and calpain activity were reduced, consistent with a direct effect in skeletal muscle. Additional experiments suggested that the effects of BN82270 on muscle protein breakdown may, in part, reflect inhibited cathepsin L activity, in addition to inhibited calpain activity. When cultured myoblasts were transfected with a plasmid expressing the endogenous calpain inhibitor calpastatin, the increased protein breakdown rates in dexamethasone-treated myoblasts were reduced, supporting a role of calpain activity in atrophying muscle. The present results suggest that treatment with calpain inhibitors may prevent sepsis-induced muscle wasting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1589-R1597
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Calpains
  • Ubiquitin ligases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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