Skeletal muscle mitochondrial uncoupling in a murine cancer cachexia model

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Approximately half of all cancer patients present with cachexia, a condition in which disease-associated metabolic changes lead to a severe loss of skeletal muscle mass. Working toward an integrated and mechanistic view of cancer cachexia, we investigated the hypothesis that cancer promotes mitochondrial uncoupling in skeletal muscle. We subjected mice to in vivo phosphorous-31 nuclear magnetic resonance (31P NMR) spectroscopy and subjected murine skeletal muscle samples to gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The mice used in both experiments were Lewis lung carcinoma models of cancer cachexia. A novel 'fragmented mass isotopomer' approach was used in our dynamic analysis of 13C mass isotopomer data. Our 31P NMR and GC/MS results indicated that the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) synthesis rate and tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle flux were reduced by 49% and 22%, respectively, in the cancer-bearing mice (p<0.008; t-test vs. controls). The ratio of ATP synthesis rate to the TCA cycle flux (an index of mitochondrial coupling) was reduced by 32% in the cancer-bearing mice (p=0.036; t-test vs. controls). Genomic analysis revealed aberrant expression levels for key regulatory genes and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) revealed ultrastructural abnormalities in the muscle fiber, consistent with the presence of abnormal, giant mitochondria. Taken together, these data suggest that mitochondrial uncoupling occurs in cancer cachexia and thus point to the mitochondria as a potential pharmaceutical target for the treatment of cachexia. These findings may prove relevant to elucidating the mechanisms underlying skeletal muscle wasting observed in other chronic diseases, as well as in aging.


  • A Aria Tzika
  • Cibely Cristine Fontes-Oliveira
  • Alexander A Shestov
  • Caterina Constantinou
  • Nikolaos Psychogios
  • Valeria Righi
  • Dionyssios Mintzopoulos
  • Silvia Busquets
  • Francisco J Lopez-Soriano
  • Sylvain Milot
  • Francois Lepine
  • Michael N Mindrinos
  • Laurence G Rahme
  • Josep M Argiles
External organisations
  • Harvard Medical School
  • University of Barcelona
Research areas and keywords


  • Adenosine Triphosphate, Animals, Cachexia, Citric Acid Cycle, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Mice, Microscopy, Electron, Transmission, Mitochondria, Muscle, Skeletal, Neoplasms, Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)886-94
JournalInternational Journal of Oncology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Sep
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes