Background: Heart failure (HF)-induced skeletal muscle atrophy is often associated to exercise intolerance and poor prognosis. Better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying HF-induced muscle atrophy may contribute to the development of pharmacological strategies to prevent or treat such condition. It has been shown that autophagy-lysosome system is an important mechanism for maintenance of muscle mass. However, its role in HF-induced myopathy has not been addressed yet. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to evaluate autophagy signaling in myocardial infarction (MI)-induced muscle atrophy in rats.
Methods/principal findings: Wistar rats underwent MI or Sham surgeries, and after 12 weeks were submitted to echocardiography, exercise tolerance and histology evaluations. Cathepsin L activity and expression of autophagy-related genes and proteins were assessed in soleus and plantaris muscles by fluorimetric assay, qRT-PCR and immunoblotting, respectively. MI rats displayed exercise intolerance, left ventricular dysfunction and dilation, thereby suggesting the presence of HF. The key findings of the present study were: a) upregulation of autophagy-related genes (GABARAPL1, ATG7, BNIP3, CTSL1 and LAMP2) was observed only in plantaris while muscle atrophy was observed in both soleus and plantaris muscles, and b) Cathepsin L activity, Bnip3 and Fis1 protein levels, and levels of lipid hydroperoxides were increased specifically in plantaris muscle of MI rats.
Conclusions: Altogether our results provide evidence for autophagy signaling regulation in HF-induced plantaris atrophy but not soleus atrophy. Therefore, autophagy-lysosome system is differentially regulated in atrophic muscles comprising different fiber-types and metabolic characteristics.