Early changes of muscle insulin-like growth factor-1 and myostatin gene expression in gastric cancer patients


  • This study was supported by the Ministero per l'Università e la Ricerca (Roma, Italy), the University of Torino, Regione Piemonte, Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro (Milano, Italy), and the Fondazione San Paolo (Torino, Italy).

  • Current affiliation for A. Bonetto: Department Cancer Biology, Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Correspondence to: M. Muscaritoli; e-mail: maurizio.muscaritoli@uniroma1.it



Cachexia increases morbidity and mortality of cancer patients. The progressive loss of muscle mass negatively affects physical function and quality of life. We previously showed reduced muscle insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) expression and enhanced myostatin signaling in tumor-bearing animals. This study was aimed at investigating whether similar perturbations occur in gastric cancer patients.


Early perturbations of myostatin and IGF-1 signaling (including the expression of muscle-specific ubiquitin ligases) were investigated in 16 gastric cancer patients and in 6 controls by analyzing muscle mRNA expression with semiquantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and real-time PCR.


In gastric cancer patients, muscle mRNA levels for IGF-1, myostatin, and atrogin-1 were reduced irrespective of weight loss (≤5% or >5%), whereas MuRF1 expression was unchanged.


IGF-1 and myostatin mRNA levels are downregulated in gastric cancer patients who have minimal or no weight loss. These early alterations are particularly relevant in order to devise preventive and therapeutic strategies for cancer cachexia. Muscle Nerve 48: 387–392, 2013