Maladaptive endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is associated with modified reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and mitochondrial abnormalities; and is postulated as a potential mechanism involved in muscle weakness in myositis, an acquired autoimmune neuromuscular disease. This study investigates the impact of ROS generation in an in vitro model of ER stress in skeletal muscle, using the ER stress inducer tunicamycin (24 h) in the presence or absence of a superoxide dismutase/catalase mimetic Eukarion (EUK)-134. Tunicamycin induced maladaptive ER stress, which was mitigated by EUK-134 at the transcriptional level. ER stress promoted mitochondrial dysfunction, described by substantial loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, as well as a reduction in respiratory control ratio, reserve capacity, phosphorylating respiration, and coupling efficiency, which was ameliorated by EUK-134. Tunicamycin induced ROS-mediated biogenesis and fusion of mitochondria, which, however, had high propensity of fragmentation, accompanied by upregulated mRNA levels of fission-related markers. Increased cellular ROS generation was observed under ER stress that was prevented by EUK-134, even though no changes in mitochondrial superoxide were noticeable. These findings suggest that targeting ROS generation using EUK-134 can amend aspects of ER stress-induced changes in mitochondrial dynamics and function, and therefore, in instances of chronic ER stress, such as in myositis, quenching ROS generation may be a promising therapy for muscle weakness and dysfunction.
Keywords: ER stress; EUK-134; antioxidant; mitochondria; reactive oxygen species.