Skeletal muscle atrophy induced during sepsis syndrome produced by endotoxin in the form of LPS (lipopolysaccharide), is a pathological condition characterized by the loss of strength and muscle mass, an increase in MHC (myosin heavy chain) degradation, and an increase in the expression of atrogin-1 and MuRF-1 (muscle-specific RING-finger protein 1), two ubiquitin E3 ligases belonging to the ubiquitin–proteasome system. Ang-(1–7) [Angiotensin-(1–7)], through its Mas receptor, has beneficial effects in skeletal muscle. We evaluated in vivo the role of Ang-(1–7) and Mas receptor on the muscle wasting induced by LPS injection into C57BL/10J mice. In vitro studies were performed in murine C2C12 myotubes and isolated myofibres from EDL (extensor digitorum longus) muscle. In addition, the participation of p38 MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) in the Ang-(1–7) effect on the LPS-induced muscle atrophy was evaluated. Our results show that Ang-(1–7) prevents the decrease in the diameter of myofibres and myotubes, the decrease in muscle strength, the diminution in MHC levels and the induction of atrogin-1 and MuRF-1 expression, all of which are induced by LPS. These effects were reversed by using A779, a Mas antagonist. Ang-(1–7) exerts these anti-atrophic effects at least in part by inhibiting the LPS-dependent activation of p38 MAPK both in vitro and in vivo. We have demonstrated for the first time that Ang-(1–7) counteracts the skeletal muscle atrophy induced by endotoxin through a mechanism dependent on the Mas receptor that involves a decrease in p38 MAPK phosphorylation. The present study indicates that Ang-(1–7) is a novel molecule with a potential therapeutic use to improve muscle wasting during endotoxin-induced sepsis syndrome.

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