Vamorolone treatment improves skeletal muscle outcome in a critical illness myopathy rat model

Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2019 Feb;225(2):e13172. doi: 10.1111/apha.13172. Epub 2018 Sep 6.


Aim: Critical illness myopathy (CIM) is a consequence of modern critical care, leading to skeletal muscle atrophy/paralysis with negative consequences for mortality/morbidity and health care costs. Glucocorticoids (GCs) have been proposed to trigger CIM. Here, we compare outcomes of two GCs, the commonly used prednisolone and the newly developed dissociative vamorolone in response to the intensive care unit (ICU) condition for 5 days, ie, sedation, immobilization, and mechanical ventilation.

Methods: Rats were divided into a 0-day sham-operated control group, and three groups exposed to 5 days ICU condition during treatment with prednisolone (PRED) or vamorolone (VAM) or none of these GCs (ICU-group). Survival, body and muscle weights, cytokine concentrations, regulation of muscle contraction in single fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibres, myofibrillar protein expression and protein degradation pathways were studied.

Results: Critical illness myopathy geno- and pheno-types were confirmed in the ICU group. However, VAM and PRED groups showed reduced atrophy/weakness than the ICU group, and muscle specific differences with more severe negative effects on fast-twitch muscle fibres in the PRED than the other groups.

Conclusion: These results show that vamorolone provides a GC intervention superior to typical GCs in improving CIM outcomes. Further, the findings do not support the notion that moderate-dose GC treatment represents a factor triggering CIM.

Keywords: Glucocorticoids; ICU; muscle wasting; prednisolone; vamorolone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Contractile Proteins / metabolism
  • Critical Illness
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscular Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Muscular Diseases / metabolism
  • Muscular Diseases / pathology
  • Muscular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Prednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Pregnadienediols / therapeutic use*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Contractile Proteins
  • Cytokines
  • Pregnadienediols
  • VBP15 compound
  • Prednisolone