Critical illness myopathy (CIM) represents a common consequence of modern intensive care, negatively impacting patient health and significantly increasing health care costs; however, there is no treatment available apart from symptomatic and supportive interventions. The chaperone co-inducer BGP-15 has previously been shown to have a positive effect on the diaphragm in rats exposed to the intensive care unit (ICU) condition. In this study, we aim to explore the effects of BGP-15 on a limb muscle (soleus muscle) in response to the ICU condition.
Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to the ICU condition for 5, 8 and 10 days and compared with untreated sham-operated controls.
BGP-15 significantly improved soleus muscle fibre force after 5 days exposure to the ICU condition. This improvement was associated with the protection of myosin from post-translational myosin modifications, improved mitochondrial structure/biogenesis and reduced the expression of MuRF1 and Fbxo31 E3 ligases. At longer durations (8 and 10 days), BGP-15 had no protective effect when the hallmark of CIM had become manifest, that is, preferential loss of myosin. Unrelated to the effects on skeletal muscle, BGP-15 had a strong positive effect on survival compared with untreated animals.
BGP-15 treatment improved soleus muscle fibre and motor protein function after 5 days exposure to the ICU condition, but not at longer durations (8 and 10 days) when the preferential loss of myosin was manifest. Thus, long-term CIM interventions targeting limb muscle fibre/myosin force generation capacity need to consider both the post-translational modifications and the loss of myosin.