Regulation of muscle protein synthesis during sepsis and inflammation

Charles H. Lang, Robert A. Frost, Thomas C. Vary

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations


Prolonged sepsis and exposure to an inflammatory milieu decreases muscle protein synthesis and reduces muscle mass. As a result of its ability to integrate diverse signals, including hormones and nutrients, the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a dominant regulator in the translational control of protein synthesis. Under postabsorptive conditions, sepsis decreases mTOR kinase activity in muscle, as evidenced by reduced phosphorylation of both eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF)4E-binding protein (BP)-1 and ribosomal S6 kinase (S6K)1. These sepsis-induced changes, along with the redistribution of eIF4E from the active eIF4E·eIF4G complex to the inactive eIF4E·4E-BP1 complex, are preventable by neutralization of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α but not by antagonizing glucocorticoid action. Although the ability of mTOR to respond to insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I is not disrupted by sepsis, the ability of leucine to increase 4E-BP1 and S6K1 phosphorylation is greatly attenuated. This "leucine resistance" results from a cooperative interaction between both TNF-α and glucocorticoids. Finally, although septic animals are not IGF-I resistant, the anabolic actions of IGF-I are nonetheless reduced because of the development of growth hormone resistance, which decreases both circulating and muscle IGF-I. Herein, we highlight recent advances in the mTOR signaling network and emphasize their connection to the atrophic response observed in skeletal muscle during sepsis. Although many unanswered questions remain, understanding the cellular basis of the sepsis-induced decrease in translational activity will contribute to the rational development of therapeutic interventions and thereby minimize the debilitating affects of the atrophic response that impairs patient recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E453-E459
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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