Muscle wasting occurs in a variety of conditions, including both genetic diseases, such as muscular dystrophies, and acquired disorders, ranging from muscle disuse to cancer cachexia, from heart failure to aging sarcopenia. In most of these conditions, the loss of muscle tissue is not homogeneous, but involves specific muscle groups, for example Duchenne muscular dystrophy affects most body muscles but spares extraocular muscles, and other dystrophies affect selectively proximal or distal limb muscles. In addition, muscle atrophy can affect specific fiber types, involving predominantly slow type 1 or fast type 2 muscle fibers, and is frequently accompanied by a slow-to-fast or fast-to-slow fiber type shift. For example, muscle disuse, such as spinal cord injury, causes type 1 fiber atrophy with a slow-to-fast fiber type shift, whereas cancer cachexia leads to preferential atrophy of type 2 fibers with a fast-to-slow fiber type shift. The identification of the signaling pathways responsible for the differential response of muscles types and fiber types can lead to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of muscle wasting and to the design of therapeutic interventions appropriate for the specific disorders. This article is part of a Directed Issue entitled: Molecular basis of muscle wasting.
Keywords: Cachexia; Muscle atrophy; Muscle disuse; Muscle fiber types; Muscular dystrophies; Sarcopenia.
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