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TAKling GDF-15 and skeletal muscle atrophy in pulmonary hypertension: are we there yet?
  1. Yen-Chun Lai1,
  2. Steeve Provencher2,
  3. Elena A Goncharova3
  1. 1 Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep and Occupational Medicine, Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  2. 2 Pulmonary Hypertension Research Group, Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec Research Center, Universite Laval Faculte de medecine, Quebec, Montreal, Canada
  3. 3 Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, Pittsburgh Heart, Lung and Blood Vascular Medicine Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Elena A Goncharova, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA 15260, USA; eag59{at}

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Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a progressive, life-threatening disease characterised by intense pulmonary vascular remodelling leading to high pulmonary arterial pressure, right ventricular failure and death. Although recent advances in therapies have proven to be effective in alleviating disease symptoms and improving functional capacity and survival, patients with PAH continue to suffer from persistent dyspnoea and significant exercise intolerance, which negatively impact their quality of life. In recent years, it has been increasingly recognised that exercise limitation in PAH is not merely due to right heart dysfunction and respiratory impairment, but is also a consequence of skeletal muscle abnormalities.1–3 Impaired skeletal muscle function, including reduced volitional and nonvolitional muscle strength and endurance2 4 5 decreased contractility,6 reduced capillary density and impaired oxygenation at the microcirculation level,4 7 as well as a shift towards type 2 muscle fibres,1 3 5 have been repeatedly documented in human PAH. Skeletal muscle atrophy has been less frequently reported3 and underlying mechanisms are not well studied.

To date, numerous metabolic and signalling abnormalities associated with muscle dysfunction in PAH have been uncovered. These include a shift from oxidative to glycolytic metabolism, suppression of signalling pathways responsible for a hypertrophic response (eg, Akt and S6K), elevation of negative regulators of muscle homeostasis (eg, myostatin and activin A) and engagement of ubiquitin–proteasome-mediated muscle proteolysis signalling (eg, atrogin-1 and MuRF1).3 8 9 Loss of skeletal muscle microcirculation mediated by microRNA-126 downregulation, as well as sirtuin-3/AMP-activated protein kinase inactivation, and cytokines (ie, tumour necrosis factor-α and interleukin-6)-regulated skeletal muscle insulin resistance and abnormalities of mitochondrial biogenesis have also been documented.4 8 10 The molecular mechanisms of skeletal muscle atrophy in PAH, however, are not well understood, and available human PAH-related data are limited by a small number of studies with only a few …

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  • Contributors All three authors had participated in drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content. All three authors provided final approval of the version submitted.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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