A Clue to Cachexia

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Science's STKE  28 May 2002:
Vol. 2002, Issue 134, pp. tw192
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2002.134.tw192


Patients with chronic diseases such as cancer and AIDS often develop cachexia, a life-threatening disorder characterized by extensive weight loss and degeneration of skeletal muscle (see the Perspective by Tracey). The molecular pathogenesis of cachexia is poorly understood. Zimmers et al. show that mice develop a wasting syndrome resembling human cachexia when myostatin, a member of the transforming growth factor β family, is systemically administered at high levels. Prior administration of proteins that inhibit myostatin activity, such as follistatin, slowed weight loss in the mice. These results suggest that myostatin may be a useful drug target for prevention or treatment of cachexia, which is estimated to be the ultimate cause of death in about 25% of all cancer patients.

K. Tracey, Lethal weight loss: The focus shifts to signal transduction. Science's STKE (2002),;2002/130/pe21 [Abstract] [Full Text]

T. A. Zimmers, M. V. Davies, L. G. Koniaris, P. Haynes, A. F. Esquela, K. N. Tomkinson, A. C. McPherron, N. M. Wolfman, S.-J. Lee, Induction of cachexia in mice by systemically administered myostatin. Science 296, 1486-1488 (2002). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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