The anabolic catabolic transforming agent (ACTA) espindolol increases muscle mass and decreases fat mass in old rats

Mareike S. Pötsch, Anika Tschirner, Sandra Palus, Stephan von Haehling, Wolfram Doehner, John Beadle, Andrew J S Coats, Stefan D. Anker, Jochen Springer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Sarcopenia, the age-related, progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass, strength, and function, is a considerable socioeconomic burden by increasing risks of falls, fractures, and frailty. Moreover, sarcopenic patients are often obese and therapeutic options are very limited. Methods: Here, we assessed the efficacy of espindolol on muscle mass in 19-month-old male Wistar Han rats (weight, 555 ± 18 g), including safety issues. Rats were randomized to treatment with 3 mg/kg/day espindolol (n = 8) or placebo (n = 14) for 31 days. Results: Placebo-treated rats progressively lost body weight (-15.5 ± 7.2 g), lean mass (-1.5 ± 4.2 g), and fat mass (-15.6 ± 2.7 g), while espindolol treatment increased body weight (+8.0 ± 6.1 g, p <0.05), particularly lean mass (+43.4 ± 3.5 g, p <0.001), and reduced fat mass further (-38.6 ± 3.4 g, p <0.001). Anabolic/catabolic signaling was assessed in gastrocnemius muscle. Espindolol decreased proteasome and caspase-3 proteolytic activities by approximately 50 % (all p <0.05). Western blotting showed a reduced expression of key catabolic regulators, including NFκB, MuRF1, and LC-3 (all p <0.01). The 50- and 26-kDa forms of myostatin were downregulated fivefold and 20-fold, respectively (both p <0.001). Moreover, 4E-BP-1 was reduced fivefold (p <0.01), while phospho-PI3K was upregulated fivefold (p <0.001), although Akt expression and phosphorylation were lower compared to placebo (all p <0.05). No regulation of p38 and expression of ERK1/2 were observed, while phosphorylation of p38 was reduced (-54 %, p <0.001) and ERK1/2 was increased (115 and 83 %, respectively, both p <0.01). Espindolol did not affect cardiac function (echocardiography) or clinical plasma parameters. Conclusion: Espindolol reversed the effects of aging/sarcopenia, particularly loss of muscle mass and increased fat mass. Thus, espindolol is an attractive candidate drug for the treatment of sarcopenia patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-158
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Anabolic catabolic transforming agent (ACTA)
  • Espindolol
  • Fat mass
  • Muscle mass
  • Sarcopenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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