TNF-α-induced NF-κB activation stimulates skeletal muscle glycolytic metabolism through activation of HIF-1α

Endocrinology. 2015 May;156(5):1770-81. doi: 10.1210/en.2014-1591. Epub 2015 Feb 24.


A shift in quadriceps muscle metabolic profile toward decreased oxidative metabolism and increased glycolysis is a consistent finding in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Chronic inflammation has been proposed as a trigger of this pathological metabolic adaptation. Indeed, the proinflammatory cytokine TNF-α impairs muscle oxidative metabolism through activation of the nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) pathway. Putative effects on muscle glycolysis, however, are unclear. We hypothesized that TNF-α-induced NF-κB signaling stimulates muscle glycolytic metabolism through activation of the glycolytic regulator hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α). Wild-type C2C12 and C2C12-IκBα-SR (blocked NF-κB signaling) myotubes were stimulated with TNF-α, and its effects on glycolytic metabolism and involvement of the HIF pathway herein were investigated. As proof of principle, expression of HIF signaling constituents was investigated in quadriceps muscle biopsies of a previously well-characterized cohort of clinically stable patients with severe COPD and healthy matched controls. TNF-α increased myotube glucose uptake and lactate production and enhanced the activity and expression levels of multiple effectors of muscle glycolytic metabolism in a NF-κB-dependent manner. In addition, TNF-α activated HIF signaling, which required classical NF-κB activation. Moreover, the knockdown of HIF-1α largely attenuated TNF-α-induced increases in glycolytic metabolism. Accordingly, the mRNA levels of HIF-1α and the HIF-1α target gene, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), were increased in muscle biopsies of COPD patients compared with controls, which was most pronounced in the patients with high levels of muscle TNF-α. In conclusion, these data show that TNF-α-induced classical NF-κB activation enhances muscle glycolytic metabolism in a HIF-1α-dependent manner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Line
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glycolysis / drug effects
  • Glycolysis / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / genetics*
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / metabolism
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • NF-kappa B / drug effects
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / metabolism*
  • Quadriceps Muscle / metabolism
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / genetics
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism


  • HIF1A protein, human
  • Hif1a protein, mouse
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • NF-kappa B
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • VEGFA protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Lactic Acid
  • Glucose