Myostatin/HIF2α-Mediated Ferroptosis is Involved in Skeletal Muscle Dysfunction in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

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Objective: Skeletal muscle dysfunction is an important comorbidity in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and is associated with poor quality of life and reduced survival, but the mechanisms involved remain elusive. Ferroptosis is a newly discovered type of cell death resulting from iron-dependent lipid peroxide accumulation. The purpose of this study was to examine whether ferroptosis is involved in COPD-associated skeletal muscle dysfunction. Methods: A mouse model of COPD was established after 24 weeks of cigarette smoke (CS) exposure, and mRNA sequencing, hematoxylin-eosin (H&E) staining, immunostaining (IF), RT-PCR, and Western blot were utilized to identify the changes in gastrocnemius muscles. In vitro, C2C12 myotubes were treated with CS extract (CSE) and evaluated for ferroptosis-related molecules. The pathways regulating ferroptosis were then explored in CSE-stimulated myotubes. Results: Compared with controls, COPD mice showed an enriched ferroptosis pathway. Gpx4 was decreased, while hypoxia-inducible factor (Hif) 2α was increased, at gene and protein levels. A reduced level of GSH, but increased cell death, Fe2+, lipid ROS, LPO, and 4-HNE were observed in COPD mice or in CSE-stimulated C2C12 myotubes, which could be ameliorated by ferroptosis inhibitors. The expression of myostatin (MSTN) was enhanced in COPD mice and CSE-stimulated myotubes. MSTN up-regulated HIF2α expression and led to ferroptosis in myotubes, whereas inhibition of MSTN binding to its receptor or inhibition/knockdown of HIF2α resulted in decreased cell death, and partially restored GPX4 and GSH. Conclusion: CS exposure induced ferroptosis in vivo and in vitro. Mechanistically, CS-exposure upregulated MSTN which further induced ferroptosis through HIF2α in skeletal muscles, which may contribute to muscle dysfunction through impairing metabolic capacity and decreasing muscle fiber numbers, revealing a potential novel therapeutic target for COPD-related skeletal muscle dysfunction.




Zhang, L., Li, D., Chang, C., & Sun, Y. (2022). Myostatin/HIF2α-Mediated Ferroptosis is Involved in Skeletal Muscle Dysfunction in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. International Journal of COPD, 17, 2383–2399.

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