Authors: Li Ma, Wanli Chu, Jiake Chai, Chuanan Shen, Dawei Li, Xiaoteng Wang
Severe burns are typically followed by hypermetabolism characterized by significant muscle wasting, which causes considerable morbidity and mortality. The aim of the present study wastoexplore the underlying mechanisms of skeletal muscle damage/wasting post-burn. Rats were randomized to the sham, sham+4-phenylbutyrate (4-PBA, a pharmacological chaperone promoting endoplasmic reticulum (ER) folding/trafficking, commonly considered as aninhibitor of ER), burn (30% total body surface area), and burn+4-PBA groups; and sacrificed at 1, 4, 7, 14 days after the burn injury. Tibial anterior muscle was harvested for transmission electron microscopy, calcium imaging, gene expression and protein analysis of ER stress / ubiquitin-proteasome system / autophagy, and calpain activity measurement. The results showed that ER stress markers were increased in the burn group compared with the shamgroup, especially at post-burn days 4 and 7, which might consequently elevate cytoplasmic calcium concentration, promote calpain production as well as activation, and cause skeletal muscle damage/wasting of TA muscle after severe burn injury. Interestingly, treatment with 4-PBA prevented burn-induced ER swelling and altered protein expression of ER stress markers and calcium release, attenuating calpain activation and skeletal muscle damage/wasting after severe burn injury. Atrogin-1 and LC3-II/LC3-I ratio were also increased in the burn group compared with the sham group, while MuRF-1 remained unchanged; 4-PBA decreased atrogin-1 in the burn group. Taken together, these findings suggested that severe burn injury induces ER stress, which in turns causes calpain activation. ER stress and subsequent activated calpain play a critical role in skeletal muscle damage/wasting in burned rats.