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Protein interaction drives muscle atrophy

Muscle wasting, or atrophy, is a serious condition that affects millions of Americans. Aging is the most common cause, but muscle atrophy also happens as a result of muscle disuse—after injury or spinal cord damage, for example—malnutrition, critical illness, or advanced chronic diseases like cancer.

Although muscle atrophy is very common, the molecular pathways that cause it, and that might be targeted to create therapies, are complicated and not well understood. But a University of Iowa team has identified several key components in the development of this condition that could advance progress on treating it.

Photo: Christopher Adams
Dr. Christopher Adams

UI researchers led by physician-scientist Christopher Adams previously discovered that increased levels of a single muscle protein triggers muscle atrophy. In a new study, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Adams and colleagues at the UI and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California, continued their work investigating this protein, Gadd45a (Growth Arrest and DNA Damage-inducible 45 alpha), in mice.

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