BACKGROUND: A short-term high-fat diet impairs mitochondrial function and the ability of skeletal muscle to respond to growth stimuli, but it is unknown whether such a diet alters the ability to respond to atrophy signals. The purpose of this study was to determine whether rapid weigh gain induced by a high-fat (HF) diet accelerates denervation-induced muscle atrophy.

METHODS: Adult, male mice (C57BL/6) were fed a control or HF (60 % calories as fat) diet for 3 weeks (3wHF). Sciatic nerve was sectioned unilaterally for the final 5 or 14 days of the diet. Soleus and extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscles were removed and incubated in vitro to determine rates of protein degradation and subsequently homogenized for determination of protein levels of LC3, ubiquitination, myosin heavy chain (MHC) distribution, and mitochondrial subunits.

RESULTS: When mice were fed the 3wHF diet, whole-body fat mass more than doubled, but basal (innervated) muscle weights, rates of protein degradation, LC3 content, mitochondrial protein content, and myosin isoform distribution were not significantly different than with the control diet in either soleus or EDL. However in the 14 day denervated soleus, the 3wHF diet significantly augmented loss of mass, proteolysis rate, amount of the autophagosome marker LC3 II, and the amount of overall ubiquitination as compared to the control fed mice. On the contrary, the 3wHF diet had no significant effect in the EDL on amount of mass loss, proteolysis rate, LC3 levels, or ubiquitination. Fourteen days denervation also induced a loss of mitochondrial proteins in the soleus but not the EDL, regardless of the diet.

CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, a short-term, high-fat diet augments denervation muscle atrophy by induction of protein degradation in the mitochondria-rich soleus but not in the glycolytic EDL. These findings suggest that the denervation-induced loss of mitochondria and HF diet-induced impairment of mitochondrial function may combine to promote skeletal muscle atrophy.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Nutrition & Metabolism, v. 12, article 39, p. 1-11.

© Roseno et al. 2015 This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Funding Information

This study was supported by Start-up funds from East Carolina University to JJB, and Start-up funds from East Carolina University and NIH R00-AR056298 to CAW.