Cachexia syndrome develops in patients with diseases such as cancer and sepsis and is characterized by progressive muscle wasting. While iNOS is one of the main effectors of cachexia, its mechanism of action and whether it could be targeted for therapy remains unexplored. Here, we show that iNOS knockout mice and mice treated with the clinically tested iNOS inhibitor GW274150 are protected against muscle wasting in models of both septic and cancer cachexia. We demonstrate that iNOS triggers muscle wasting by disrupting mitochondrial content, morphology, and energy production processes such as the TCA cycle and acylcarnitine transport. Notably, iNOS inhibits oxidative phosphorylation through impairment of complexes II and IV of the electron transport chain and reduces ATP production, leading to energetic stress, activation of AMPK, suppression of mTOR, and, ultimately, muscle atrophy. Importantly, all these effects were reversed by GW274150. Therefore, our data establish how iNOS induces muscle wasting under cachectic conditions and provide a proof of principle for the repurposing of iNOS inhibitors, such as GW274150 for the treatment of cachexia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine