Classical NF-κB activation impairs skeletal muscle oxidative phenotype by reducing IKK-α expression

A H V Remels, H R Gosker, R C Langen, M Polkey, P Sliwinski, J Galdiz, B van den Borst, N A Pansters, A M W J Schols
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 2014, 1842 (2): 175-85

BACKGROUND: Loss of quadriceps muscle oxidative phenotype (OXPHEN) is an evident and debilitating feature of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We recently demonstrated involvement of the inflammatory classical NF-κB pathway in inflammation-induced impairments in muscle OXPHEN. The exact underlying mechanisms however are unclear. Interestingly, IκB kinase α (IKK-α: a key kinase in the alternative NF-κB pathway) was recently identified as a novel positive regulator of skeletal muscle OXPHEN. We hypothesised that inflammation-induced classical NF-κB activation contributes to loss of muscle OXPHEN in COPD by reducing IKK-α expression.

METHODS: Classical NF-κB signalling was activated (molecularly or by tumour necrosis factor α: TNF-α) in cultured myotubes and the impact on muscle OXPHEN and IKK-α levels was investigated. Moreover, the alternative NF-κB pathway was modulated to investigate the impact on muscle OXPHEN in absence or presence of an inflammatory stimulus. As a proof of concept, quadriceps muscle biopsies of COPD patients and healthy controls were analysed for expression levels of IKK-α, OXPHEN markers and TNF-α.

RESULTS: IKK-α knock-down in cultured myotubes decreased expression of OXPHEN markers and key OXPHEN regulators. Moreover, classical NF-κB activation (both by TNF-α and IKK-β over-expression) reduced IKK-α levels and IKK-α over-expression prevented TNF-α-induced impairments in muscle OXPHEN. Importantly, muscle IKK-α protein abundance and OXPHEN was reduced in COPD patients compared to controls, which was more pronounced in patients with increased muscle TNF-α mRNA levels.

CONCLUSION: Classical NF-κB activation impairs skeletal muscle OXPHEN by reducing IKK-α expression. TNF-α-induced reductions in muscle IKK-α may accelerate muscle OXPHEN deterioration in COPD.

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