The role of Nrf2 in disease prevention and treatment is well documented; however the specific role of Nrf2 in skeletal muscle is not well described. The current study investigated whether Nrf2 plays a protective role in an STZ-induced model of skeletal muscle atrophy. Modulation of Nrf2 through siRNA resulted in a more robust differentiation of C2C12s, whereas increasing Nrf2 with sulforaphane treatment inhibited differentiation. Diabetic muscle atrophy was not dramatically influenced by Nrf2 genotype, since no differences were observed in total atrophy (all fiber types combined) between WT+STZ and KO+STZ animals. Nrf2-KO animals however illustrated alterations in muscle size of Fast, Type II myosin expressing fibers. KO+STZ animals show significant alterations in myosin isoform expression in the GAST. Similarly, KO controls mimic both WT+STZ and KO+STZ muscle alterations in mitochondrial subunit expression. PGC-1α, a well-established player in mitochondrial biogenesis and myosin isoform expression, was decreased in KO control, WT+STZ and KO+STZ SOL muscle. Similarly, PGC-1α protein levels are correlated with Nrf2 levels in C2C12s after modulation by Nrf2 siRNA or sulforaphane treatment. We provide experimental evidence indicating Nrf2 plays a role in myocyte differentiation and governs molecular alterations in contractile and metabolic properties in an STZ-induced model of muscle atrophy.
Keywords: Atrophy; Metabolism; Myosin; Nrf2; Skeletal muscle.
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