Skeletal muscle wasting is commonly associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD), resulting in increased morbidity and mortality. However, the link between kidney and muscle function remains poorly understood. Here, we took a complementary interorgan approach to investigate skeletal muscle wasting in CKD. We identified increased production and elevated blood levels of soluble pro-cachectic factors, including activin A, directly linking experimental and human CKD to skeletal muscle wasting programs. Single-cell sequencing data identified the expression of activin A in specific kidney cell populations of fibroblasts and cells of the juxtaglomerular apparatus. We propose that persistent and increased kidney production of pro-cachectic factors, combined with a lack of kidney clearance, facilitates a vicious kidney/muscle signaling cycle, leading to exacerbated blood accumulation and, thereby, skeletal muscle wasting. Systemic pharmacological blockade of activin A using soluble activin receptor type IIB ligand trap as well as muscle-specific adeno-associated virus-mediated downregulation of its receptor ACVR2A/B prevented muscle wasting in different mouse models of experimental CKD, suggesting that activin A is a key factor in CKD-induced cachexia. In summary, we uncovered a crosstalk between kidney and muscle and propose modulation of activin signaling as a potential therapeutic strategy for skeletal muscle wasting in CKD.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01209000.
Keywords: Chronic kidney disease; Muscle; Muscle Biology; Nephrology.