Neuregulin (NRG-1β) Is Pro-Myogenic and Anti-Cachectic in Respiratory Muscles of Post-Myocardial Infarcted Swine

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Neuregulin-1β (NRG-1β) is a growth and differentiation factor with pleiotropic systemic effects. Because NRG-1β has therapeutic potential for heart failure and has known growth effects in skeletal muscle, we hypothesized that it might affect heart failure-associated cachexia, a severe co-morbidity characterized by a loss of muscle mass. We therefore assessed NRG-1β's effect on intercostal skeletal muscle gene expression in a swine model of heart failure using recombinant glial growth factor 2 (USAN-cimaglermin alfa), a version of NRG-1β that has been tested in humans with systolic heart failure. Animals received one of two intravenous doses (0.67 or 2 mg/kg) of NRG-1β bi-weekly for 4 weeks, beginning one week after infarct. Based on paired-end RNA sequencing, NRG-1β treatment altered the intercostal muscle gene expression of 581 transcripts, including genes required for myofiber growth, maintenance and survival, such as MYH3, MYHC, MYL6B, KY and HES1. Importantly, NRG-1β altered the directionality of at least 85 genes associated with cachexia, including myostatin, which negatively regulates myoblast differentiation by down-regulating MyoD expression. Consistent with this, MyoD was increased in NRG-1β-treated animals. In vitro experiments with myoblast cell lines confirmed that NRG-1β induces ERBB-dependent differentiation. These findings suggest a NRG-1β-mediated anti-atrophic, anti-cachexia effect that may provide additional benefits to this potential therapy in heart failure.