Catabolic conditions like chronic kidney disease (CKD) cause loss of muscle mass by unclear mechanisms. In muscle biopsies from CKD patients, we found activated Stat3 (p-Stat3) and hypothesized that p-Stat3 initiates muscle wasting. We created mice with muscle-specific knockout (KO) that prevents activation of Stat3. In these mice, losses of body and muscle weights were suppressed in models with CKD or acute diabetes. A small-molecule that inhibits Stat3 activation produced similar responses, suggesting a potential for translation strategies. Using CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein δ (C/EBPδ) KO mice and C2C12 myotubes with knockdown of C/EBPδ or myostatin, we determined that p-Stat3 initiates muscle wasting via C/EBPδ, stimulating myostatin, a negative muscle growth regulator. C/EBPδ KO also improved survival of CKD mice. We verified that p-Stat3, C/EBPδ, and myostatin were increased in muscles of CKD patients. The pathway from p-Stat3 to C/EBPδ to myostatin and muscle wasting could identify therapeutic targets that prevent muscle wasting.
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