Sepsis-induced changes in protein synthesis: Differential effects on fast- and slow-twitch muscles

T. C. Vary, S. R. Kimball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


Sepsis is associated with severe muscle wasting. Mechanisms responsible for sepsis-induced alterations in muscle protein metabolism were investigated in vivo and compared with changes induced by nonseptic inflammation. The rate of protein synthesis in mixed hindlimb muscles was not altered in inflammation but was inhibited 50% in sepsis. This inhibition did not result from a decreased RNA content. Instead, the translational efficiency was significantly reduced by 50% in skeletal muscle of septic animals compared with control. The effect of sepsis to lower the rate of protein synthesis was further examined using individual muscles containing different fiber types. Both the protein concentration and protein synthetic rate in fast-twitch muscles were reduced by sepsis, whereas neither of these parameters was affected in slow-twitch muscles or heart. The decreased translational efficiency did not result from a change in the rate of peptide-chain elongation. Instead, the sepsis-induced inhibition of protein synthesis resulted from a restraint in peptide-chain initiation because sepsis caused a 1.6-fold increase in free ribosomal subunits. Overall, sepsis, but not inflammation, caused an inhibition of protein synthesis primarily in muscles composed of fast-twitch fibers. The mechanism involved in the reduced rates of protein synthesis in muscles resulted from an inhibition of peptide-chain initiation, with no change in peptide-chain elongation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C1513-C1519
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number6 31-6
StatePublished - 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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