Purpose of review
Muscle wasting in cancer cachexia remains an unmet clinical need due to lack of effective therapies associated with the complexity of the disease. Here, we discuss microRNAs, robust regulators of the expression of multiple genes, only recently characterized in cancer cachexia in humans and their therapeutic potential for muscle wasting.
Changes in microRNAs in muscle of cancer patients have been demonstrated for the first time and these are associated with dysregulated signalling networks during muscle wasting. These data, together with studies in animal models, indicate that microRNAs are attractive therapeutic candidates for maintaining muscle mass, both during and following cancer treatment ultimately improving patient outcomes.
Cancer cachexia is a complex metabolic condition associated with muscle wasting. Maintenance of muscle mass in cancer patients can improve their response to therapy and prognosis. microRNAs, which can act as oncogenes or tumour suppressors, are also dysregulated in muscle of cachexia patients. Studies in animal models of muscle wasting have demonstrated that microRNAs regulate muscle mass and strength. With more microRNA-based therapeutics in clinical trials and first RNA drugs approved, microRNAs present an attractive novel therapeutic avenue for maintaining muscle homeostasis in cachexia patients to improve their prognosis.