Muscle-specific calpastatin overexpression prevents diaphragm weakness in cecal ligation puncture-induced sepsis

Gerald S. Supinski, Lin Wang, Xiao Hong Song, Jennifer S. Moylan, Leigh Ann Callahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Recent work indicates that infections are a major contributor to diaphragm weakness in patients who are critically ill and mechanically ventilated, and that diaphragm weakness is a risk factor for death and prolonged mechanical ventilation. Infections activate muscle calpain, but many believe this is an epiphenomenon and that other proteolytic processes are responsible for infection-induced muscle weakness. We tested the hypothesis that muscle-specific overexpression of calpastatin (CalpOX; an endogenous calpain inhibitor) would attenuate diaphragm dysfunction in cecal ligation puncture (CLP)-induced sepsis. We studied 1) wild-type (WT) sham-operated mice, 2) WT CLP-operated mice, 3) CalpOX sham-operated mice, and 4) CalpOX CLP-operated mice (n = 9-10/ group). Twenty-four hours after surgery, we assessed the diaphragm force-frequency relationship, diaphragm mass, and total protein content and diaphragm levels of talin and myosin heavy chain (MHC). CLP markedly reduced diaphragm-specific force generation (force/ cross-sectional area), which was prevented by calpastatin overexpression (force averaged 21.4 ± 0.5, 6.9 ± 0.8, 22.4 ± 1.0, and 18.3 ± 1.3 N/cm2, respectively, for WT sham, WT CLP, CalpOX sham, and CalpOX CLP groups, P < 0.001). Diaphragm mass and total protein content were similar in all groups. CLP induced talin cleavage and reduced MHC levels; CalpOX prevented these alterations. CLPinduced sepsis rapidly reduces diaphragm-specific force generation and is associated with cleavage and/or depletion of key muscle proteins (talin, MHC), effects prevented by muscle-specific calpastatin overexpression. These data indicate that calpain activation is a major cause of diaphragm weakness in response to CLP-induced sepsis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-929
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2014 the American Physiological Society.


  • Calpain
  • Cecal ligation puncture
  • Diaphragm
  • Proteolysis
  • Sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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