Intraperitoneal administration of 100 microg kg(-1) (body weight) of tumour necrosis factor-alpha to rats for 8 consecutive days resulted in a significant decrease in protein content, which was concomitant with a reduction in DNA content. Interestingly, the protein/DNA ratio was unchanged in the skeletal muscle of the tumour necrosis factor-alpha-treated animals as compared with the non-treated controls. Analysis of muscle DNA fragmentation clearly showed enhanced laddering in the skeletal muscle of tumour necrosis factor-alpha-treated animals, suggesting an apoptotic phenomenon. In a different set of experiments, mice bearing a cachexia-inducing tumour (the Lewis lung carcinoma) showed an increase in muscle DNA fragmentation (9.8-fold) as compared with their non-tumour-bearing control counterparts as previously described. When gene-deficient mice for tumour necrosis factor-alpha receptor protein I were inoculated with Lewis lung carcinoma, they were also affected by DNA fragmentation; however the increase was only 2.1-fold. These results suggest that tumour necrosis factor-alpha partly mediates DNA fragmentation during experimental cancer-associated cachexia.
Copyright 2002 Cancer Research UK