STAT3 promotes IFNγ/TNFα-induced muscle wasting in an NF-κB-dependent and IL-6-independent manner

EMBO Mol Med. 2017 May;9(5):622-637. doi: 10.15252/emmm.201607052.


Cachexia is a debilitating syndrome characterized by involuntary muscle wasting that is triggered at the late stage of many cancers. While the multifactorial nature of this syndrome and the implication of cytokines such as IL-6, IFNγ, and TNFα is well established, we still do not know how various effector pathways collaborate together to trigger muscle atrophy. Here, we show that IFNγ/TNFα promotes the phosphorylation of STAT3 on Y705 residue in the cytoplasm of muscle fibers by activating JAK kinases. Unexpectedly, this effect occurs both in vitro and in vivo independently of IL-6, which is considered as one of the main triggers of STAT3-mediated muscle wasting. pY-STAT3 forms a complex with NF-κB that is rapidly imported to the nucleus where it is recruited to the promoter of the iNos gene to activate the iNOS/NO pathway, a well-known downstream effector of IFNγ/TNFα-induced muscle loss. Together, these findings show that STAT3 and NF-κB respond to the same upstream signal and cooperate to promote the expression of pro-cachectic genes, the identification of which could provide effective targets to combat this deadly syndrome.

Keywords: iNOS; NF‐κB; STAT3; inflammation; muscle wasting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology*
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Muscles / immunology
  • Muscles / pathology
  • Muscular Atrophy / immunology*
  • Muscular Atrophy / pathology
  • NF-kappa B / immunology*
  • Protein Interaction Maps
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / immunology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology*
  • Wasting Syndrome / immunology*
  • Wasting Syndrome / pathology


  • Interleukin-6
  • NF-kappa B
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interferon-gamma