Discovery of Thymosin Beta-4 as a Human Exerkine and Growth Factor

Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2021 Sep 8. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00263.2021. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Skeletal muscle is an endocrine organ secreting exercise-induced factors (exerkines), which play a pivotal role in inter-organ crosstalk. Using mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics, we characterized the secretome and identified thymosin beta-4 (TMSB4X) as the most upregulated secreted protein in the media of contracting C2C12 myotubes. TMSB4X was also acutely increased in plasma of exercising humans irrespective of the insulin resistance condition or exercise mode. Treatment of mice with TMSB4X did not ameliorate the metabolic disruptions associated with diet induced-obesity, nor did it enhance muscle regeneration in vivo. However, TMSB4X increased osteoblast proliferation and neurite outgrowth, consistent with its WADA-classification as a prohibited growth factor. Therefore, we report TMSB4X as a human exerkine with a potential role in cellular crosstalk.

Keywords: exercise; exerkine; growth factors; muscle contraction; secreted factors.