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1.  Highlights of mechanistic and therapeutic cachexia and sarcopenia research 2010 to 2012 and their relevance for cardiology 
Sarcopenia and cachexia are significant medical problems with a high disease-related burden in cardiovascular illness. Muscle wasting and weight loss are very frequent particularly in chronic heart failure and they relate to poor prognosis. Although clinically largely underestimated, the fields of cachexia and sarcopenia are of great relevance to cardiologists. In cachexia and sarcopenia a significant number of research publications related to basic science questions of muscle wasting and lipolysis were published between 2010 and 2012. Recently, the two processes of muscle wasting and lipolysis were found to be closely linked. Treatment research in pre-clinical models involves studies on a number of different therapeutic entities, including ghrelin, selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs), as well as drugs targeting myostatin or melanocortin-4. In the human setting, studies using enobosarm (a SARM) and anamorelin (ghrelin) are in phase III. The last 3 years have seen significant efforts to define the field using consensus statements. In the future, these definitions should also be considered for guidelines and treatment trials in cardiovascular medicine. The current review aims to summarize important information and development in the fields of muscle wasting, sarcopenia and cachexia, focusing on findings in cardiovascular research, in order for cardiologists to have a better understanding of the progress in this still insufficiently known field.
PMCID: PMC3598129  PMID: 23515589
cachexia; sarcopenia; muscle wasting; mechanism; therapy; cardiovascular illness; heart failure
2.  Digoxin Use and Lower 30-Day All-Cause Readmission for Medicare Beneficiaries Hospitalized for Heart Failure 
The American journal of medicine  2013;127(1):61-70.
Heart failure is the leading cause for hospital readmission, the reduction of which is a priority under the Affordable Care Act. Digoxin reduces 30-day all-cause hospital admission in chronic systolic heart failure. Whether digoxin is effective in reducing readmission after hospitalization for acute decompensation remains unknown.
Of the 5153 Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized for acute heart failure and not receiving digoxin, 1054 (20%) received new discharge prescriptions for digoxin. Propensity scores for digoxin use, estimated for each of the 5153 patients, were used to assemble a matched cohort of 1842 (921 pairs) patients (mean age, 76 years; 56% women; 25% African American) receiving and not receiving digoxin, who were balanced on 55 baseline characteristics.
30-day all-cause readmission occurred in 17% and 22% of matched patients receiving and not receiving digoxin, respectively (hazard ratio {HR} for digoxin, 0.77; 95% confidence interval {CI}, 0.63–0.95). This beneficial association was observed only in those with ejection fraction <45% (HR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.47–0.83), but not in those with ejection fraction ≥45% (HR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.60–1.37; p for interaction, 0.145), a difference that persisted throughout first 12-month post-discharge (p for interaction, 0.019). HRs (95% CIs) for 12-month heart failure readmission and all-cause mortality were 0.72 (0.61–0.86) and 0.83 (0.70–0.98), respectively.
In Medicare beneficiaries with systolic heart failure, a discharge prescription of digoxin was associated with lower 30-day all-cause hospital readmission, which was maintained at 12 months, and was not at the expense of higher mortality. Future randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm these findings.
PMCID: PMC3929967  PMID: 24257326
Digoxin; heart failure; hospital readmission
3.  Stroke in Heart Failure in Sinus Rhythm: The Warfarin versus Aspirin in Reduced Cardiac Ejection Fraction Trial 
The Warfarin versus Aspirin in Reduced Cardiac Ejection Fraction trial found no difference between warfarin and aspirin in patients with low ejection fraction in sinus rhythm for the primary outcome: first to occur of 84 incident ischemic strokes (IIS), 7 intracerebral hemorrhages or 531 deaths. Prespecified secondary analysis showed a 48% hazard ratio reduction (p = 0.005) for warfarin in IIS. Cardioembolism is likely the main pathogenesis of stroke in heart failure. We examined the IIS benefit for warfarin in more detail in post hoc secondary analyses.
We subtyped IIS into definite, possible and noncardioembolic using the Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation method. Statistical tests, stratified by prior ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack, were the conditional binomial for independent Poisson variables for rates, the Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel test for stroke subtype and the van Elteren test for modified Rankin Score (mRS) and National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) distributions, and an exact test for proportions.
Twenty-nine of 1,142 warfarin and 55 of 1,163 aspirin patients had IIS. The warfarin IIS rate (0.727/100 patient-years, PY) was lower than for aspirin (1.36/100 PY, p = 0.003). Definite cardioembolic IIS was less frequent on warfarin than aspirin (0.22 vs. 0.55/100 PY, p = 0.012). Possible cardioembolic IIS tended to be less frequent on warfarin than aspirin (0.37 vs. 0.67/100 PY, p = 0.063) but noncardioembolic IIS showed no difference: 5 (0.12/100 PY) versus 6 (0.15/100 PY, p = 0.768). Among patients experiencing IIS, there were no differences by treatment arm in fatal IIS, baseline mRS, mRS 90 days after IIS, and change from baseline to post-IIS mRS. The warfarin arm showed a trend to a lower proportion of severe nonfatal IIS [mRS 3–5; 3/23 (13.0%) vs. 16/48 (33.3%), p = 0.086]. There was no difference in NIHSS at the time of stroke (p = 0.825) or in post-IIS mRS (p = 0.948) between cardioembolic, possible cardioembolic and noncardioembolic stroke including both warfarin and aspirin groups.
The observed benefits in the reduction of IIS for warfarin compared to aspirin are most significant for cardioembolic IIS among patients with low ejection fraction in sinus rhythm. This is supported by trends to lower frequencies of severe IIS and possible cardioembolic IIS in patients on warfarin compared to aspirin.
PMCID: PMC4256381  PMID: 23921215
Aspirin; Cardiac embolism; Heart failure; Stroke prevention
4.  Iron Status and Survival in Diabetic Patients With Coronary Artery Disease 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(12):4147-4156.
To investigate the impact of iron status on survival in patients with type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease (CAD).
Serum ferritin, transferrin saturation (Tsat), and soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR) were measured in 287 patients with type 2 diabetes and stable CAD (65 ± 9 years of age, 78% men).
During a mean follow-up of 45 ± 19 months, there were 59 (21%) deaths and 60 (21%) cardiovascular hospitalizations. Both serum ferritin and sTfR strongly predicted 5-year all-cause mortality rates, independently of other variables (including hemoglobin, measures of renal function, inflammation, and neurohormonal activation). There was an exponential relationship between sTfR and mortality (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] per 1 log mg/L: 4.24 [95% CI 1.43–12.58], P = 0.01), whereas the relationship between ferritin and mortality was U-shaped (for the lowest and the highest quintiles vs. the middle quintile [reference group], respectively: adjusted HR 7.18 [95% CI 2.03–25.46], P = 0.002, and adjusted HR 5.12 [1.48–17.73], P = 0.01). Similar patterns were observed for the composite outcome of all-cause mortality or cardiovascular hospitalization, and in these multivariable models, low Tsat was related to unfavorable outcome.
Both low and high serum ferritin (possibly reflecting depleted and excessive iron stores, respectively) along with high serum sTfR (reflecting reduced metabolically available iron) identify patients with type 2 diabetes and CAD who have a poor prognosis.
PMCID: PMC3836160  PMID: 24130349
5.  Formoterol in the treatment of experimental cancer cachexia: effects on heart function 
Background and aims
Formoterol is a highly potent β2-adrenoceptor-selective agonist, which is a muscle growth promoter in many animal species, resulting in skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Previous studies carried out in our laboratory have shown that formoterol treatment in tumour-bearing animals resulted in an amelioration of muscle loss through different mechanisms that include muscle apoptosis and proteolysis.
The study presented involved rats bearing the Yoshida AH-130 ascites tumour model—which induces a high degree of cachexia—treated with the beta-2 agonist formoterol (0.3 mg/kg BW).
The administration of formoterol to cachectic tumour-bearing rats resulted in a significant reduction of muscle weight loss. The treatment also increased lean body mass and body water. The treatment, however, did not influence heart weight, which was much decreased as a result of tumour burden. Untreated tumour-bearing rats showed important changes in parameters related with heart function:, left ventricle (LV) ejection fraction, fractional shortening, LV diameter and volume (diastolic) and LV stroke volume, LV mass and posterior wall thickness (PWT) (both systolic and diastolic). The administration of formoterol affected LV diameter and volume, LV stroke volume and LV mass.
The results suggest that formoterol treatment, in addition to reducing muscle wasting, does not negatively alter heart function—in fact, some cardiac parameters are improved—in animals affected by cancer cachexia.
PMCID: PMC4248407  PMID: 25167857
Cancer; Cachexia; Muscle wasting; Heart function; Formoterol
6.  Prevalence, incidence and clinical impact of cachexia: facts and numbers—update 2014 
Cachexia is a serious but underrecognised consequence of many chronic diseases. Its prevalence ranges from 5–15 % in end-stage chronic heart failure to 50–80 % in advanced cancer. Cachexia is also part of the terminal course of many patients with chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and rheumatoid arthritis. Mortality rates of patients with cachexia range from 10–15 % per year in COPD through 20–30 % per year in chronic heart failure and chronic kidney disease to 80 % in cancer. The condition is also associated with poor quality of life. In the industrialised world, the overall prevalence of cachexia (due to any disease and not necessarily associated with hospital admission) is growing and it currently affects around 1 % of the patient population, i.e. around 9 million people. It is also a significant health problem in other parts of the globe. Recently there have been advances in our understanding of the multifactorial nature of the condition, and particularly of the role of inflammatory mediators and the imbalance of anabolism and catabolism. Several promising approaches to treatment have failed to live up to the challenge of phase III clinical trials, but the ghrelin receptor agonist anamorelin seems to have fulfilled at least some early promise. Further advances are urgently needed.
PMCID: PMC4248411  PMID: 25384990
Cachexia; Wasting; Prevalence; Epidemiology; Treatment
7.  Prevalence, incidence, and clinical impact of sarcopenia: facts, numbers, and epidemiology—update 2014 
Sarcopenia is now defined as a decline in walking speed or grip strength associated with low muscle mass. Sarcopenia leads to loss of mobility and function, falls, and mortality. Sarcopenia is a major cause of frailty, but either condition can occur without the other being present. Sarcopenia is present in about 5 to 10 % of persons over 65 years of age. It has multiple causes including disease, decreased caloric intake, poor blood flow to muscle, mitochondrial dysfunction, a decline in anabolic hormones, and an increase in proinflammatory cytokines. Basic therapy includes resistance exercise and protein and vitamin D supplementation. There is now a simple screening test available for sarcopenia—SARC-F. All persons 60 years and older should be screened for sarcopenia and treated when appropriate.
PMCID: PMC4248415  PMID: 25425503
8.  Cognitive Function in Ambulatory Patients with Systolic Heart Failure: Insights from the Warfarin versus Aspirin in Reduced Cardiac Ejection Fraction (WARCEF) Trial 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e113447.
We sought to determine whether cognitive function in stable outpatients with heart failure (HF) is affected by HF severity. A retrospective, cross-sectional analysis was performed using data from 2, 043 outpatients with systolic HF and without prior stroke enrolled in the Warfarin versus Aspirin in Reduced Cardiac Ejection Fraction (WARCEF) Trial. Multivariable regression analysis was used to assess the relationship between cognitive function measured using the Mini-Mental Status Exam (MMSE) and markers of HF severity (left ventricular ejection fraction [LVEF], New York Heart Association [NYHA] functional class, and 6-minute walk distance). The mean (SD) for the MMSE was 28.6 (2.0), with 64 (3.1%) of the 2,043 patients meeting the cut-off of MMSE <24 that indicates need for further evaluation of cognitive impairment. After adjustment for demographic and clinical covariates, 6-minute walk distance (β-coefficient 0.002, p<0.0001), but not LVEF or NYHA functional class, was independently associated with the MMSE as a continuous measure. Age, education, smoking status, body mass index, and hemoglobin level were also independently associated with the MMSE. In conclusion, six-minute walk distance, but not LVEF or NYHA functional class, was an important predictor of cognitive function in ambulatory patients with systolic heart failure.
PMCID: PMC4245133  PMID: 25426862
9.  Benefit of Warfarin Compared With Aspirin in Patients With Heart Failure in Sinus Rhythm 
Circulation. Heart failure  2013;6(5):988-997.
The Warfarin versus Aspirin in Reduced Cardiac Ejection Fraction (WARCEF) trial found no difference in the primary outcome between warfarin and aspirin in 2305 patients with reduced left ventricular ejection fraction in sinus rhythm. However, it is unknown whether any subgroups benefit from warfarin or aspirin.
Methods and Results
We used a Cox model stepwise selection procedure to identify subgroups that may benefit from warfarin or aspirin on the WARCEF primary outcome. A secondary analysis added major hemorrhage to the outcome. The primary efficacy outcome was time to the first to occur of ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, or death. Only age group was a significant treatment effect modifier (P for interaction, 0.003). Younger patients benefited from warfarin over aspirin on the primary outcome (4.81 versus 6.76 events per 100 patient-years: hazard ratio, 0.63; 95% confidence interval, 0.48–0.84; P=0.001). In older patients, therapies did not differ (9.91 versus 9.01 events per 100 patient-years: hazard ratio, 1.09; 95% confidence interval, 0.88–1.35; P=0.44). With major hemorrhage added, in younger patients the event rate remained lower for warfarin than aspirin (5.41 versus 7.25 per 100 patient-years: hazard ratio, 0.68; 95% confidence interval, 0.52–0.89; P=0.005), but in older patients it became significantly higher for warfarin (11.80 versus 9.35 per 100 patient-years: hazard ratio, 1.25; 95% confidence interval, 1.02–1.53; P=0.03).
In patients <60 years, warfarin improved outcomes over aspirin with or without inclusion of major hemorrhage. In patients ≥60 years, there was no treatment difference, but the aspirin group had significantly better outcomes when major hemorrhage was included.
Clinical Trial Registration
URL: Unique identifier: NCT00041938.
PMCID: PMC4242511  PMID: 23881846
aspirin; heart failure; sinus rhythm; stroke; warfarin
10.  Prediabetes is not an independent risk factor for incident heart failure, other cardiovascular events or mortality in older adults: Findings from a population-based cohort study 
International journal of cardiology  2013;168(4):3616-3622.
Whether prediabetes is an independent risk factor for incident heart failure (HF) in non-diabetic older adults remains unclear.
Of the 4602 Cardiovascular Health Study participants, age ≥ 65 years, without baseline HF and diabetes, 2157 had prediabetes, defined as fasting plasma glucose (FPG) 100–125 mg/dL. Propensity scores for prediabetes, estimated for each of the 4602 participants, were used to assemble a cohort of 1421 pairs of individuals with and without prediabetes, balanced on 44 baseline characteristics.
Participants had a mean age of 73 years, 57% were women, and 13% African American. Incident HF occurred in 18% and 20% of matched participants with and without prediabetes, respectively (hazard ratio {HR} associated with prediabetes, 0.90; 95% confidence interval {CI}, 0.76–1.07; p = 0.239). Unadjusted and multivariable-adjusted HRs (95% CIs) for incident HF associated with prediabetes among 4602 pre-match participants were 1.22 (95% CI, 1.07–1.40; p = 0.003) and 0.98 (95% CI, 0.85–1.14; p = 0.826), respectively. Among matched individuals, prediabetes had no independent association with incident acute myocardial infarction (HR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.81–1.28; p = 0.875), angina pectoris (HR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.77–1.12; p = 0.451), stroke (HR, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.70–1.06; p = 0.151) or all-cause mortality (HR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.88–1.11; p = 0.840).
We found no evidence that prediabetes is an independent risk factor for incident HF, other cardiovascular events or mortality in community-dwelling older adults. These findings question the wisdom of routine screening for prediabetes in older adults and targeted interventions to prevent adverse outcomes in older adults with prediabetes.
PMCID: PMC3939803  PMID: 23731526
Prediabetes; Diabetes; Heart failure; Older adults; Propensity-matched study
11.  Prevention of heart failure in older adults may require higher levels of physical activity than needed for other cardiovascular events 
International journal of cardiology  2013;168(3):1905-1909.
Little is known if the levels of physical activity required for the prevention of incident heart failure (HF) and other cardiovascular events vary in community-dwelling older adults.
We studied 5503 Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) participants, age ≥65 years, free of baseline HF. Weekly metabolic equivalent task-minutes (MET-minutes), estimated using baseline total leisure-time energy expenditure, were used to categorize participants into four physical activity groups: inactive (0 MET-minutes; n=489; reference), low (1–499; n=1458), medium (500–999; n=1086) and high (≥1000; n=2470).
Participants had a mean (±SD) age of 73 (±6) years, 58% were women, and 15% African American. During 13 years of follow-up, centrally-adjudicated incident HF occurred in 26%, 23%, 20%, and 19% of participants with no, low, medium and high physical activity, respectively (trend p <0.001). Compared with inactive older adults, age-sex-race-adjusted hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals) for incident HF associated with low, medium and high physical activity were 0.87 (0.71–1.06; p=0.170), 0.68 (0.54–0.85; p=0.001) and 0.60 (0.49–0.74; p<0.001), respectively (trend p <0.001). Only high physical activity had significant independent association with lower risk of incident HF (HR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.64–0.97; p=0.026). All levels of physical activity had significant independent association with lower risk of incident acute myocardial infarction (AMI), stroke and cardiovascular mortality.
In community-dwelling older adults, high level of physical activity was associated with lower risk of incident HF, but all levels of physical activity were associated with lower risk of incident AMI, stroke, and cardiovascular mortality.
PMCID: PMC4142221  PMID: 23380700
Physical activity; MET-minutes; Incident heart failure; Older adults
12.  Future perspectives on treatment with erythropoiesis-stimulating agents in high-risk patients 
NDT Plus  2009;2(Suppl 1):i3-i8.
Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have a high burden of mortality and cardiovascular morbidity. Additional strategies to modulate cardiovascular risk in this population are needed. Anaemia has been associated with adverse outcomes in CKD populations, and the ability to modify this parameter with the use of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents has been a topic of much debate. Data on the effects of anaemia correction on cardiovascular outcomes and survival in CKD have been both discordant and controversial. It is hoped that the ongoing Trial to Reduce cardiovascular Events with Aranesp Therapy (TREAT) will help to redress the current clinical gaps and the uncertainty over the optimal management of anaemia in patients with CKD and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Anaemia is also increasingly being recognized as an important comorbid condition in patients with symptomatic heart failure. The ongoing Reduction of Events with Darbepoetin alfa in Heart Failure (RED-HFTM) trial is designed to determine whether the treatment of anaemia improves outcomes in such patients.
PMCID: PMC2638547  PMID: 19461857
anaemia correction; cardiovascular disease; chronic kidney disease; erythropoiesis-stimulating agents; non-erythropoietic effects
14.  Inflammatory mediators in chronic heart failure: an overview 
Heart  2004;90(4):464-470.
PMCID: PMC1768165  PMID: 15020532
Heart failure; inflammatory mediators; cytokines
15.  Digoxin Reduces 30-Day All-Cause Hospital Admission in Older Patients with Chronic Systolic Heart Failure 
The American journal of medicine  2013;126(8):701-708.
Heart failure is a leading cause of hospital admission and readmission in older adults. The new United States healthcare reform law has created provisions for financial penalties for hospitals with higher-than-expected 30-day all-cause readmission rates for hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries ≥65 years with heart failure. We examined the effect of digoxin on 30-day all-cause hospital admission in older patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction.
In the main Digitalis Investigation Group (DIG) trial, 6800 ambulatory patients with chronic heart failure (ejection fraction ≤45%) were randomly assigned to digoxin or placebo. Of these, 3405 were ≥65 years (mean age, 72 years, 25% women, 11% non-whites). The main outcome in the current analysis was 30-day all-cause hospital admission.
In the first 30 days after randomization, all-cause hospitalization occurred in 5.4% (92/1693) and 8.1% (139/1712) of patients in the digoxin and placebo groups, respectively, (hazard ratio {HR} when digoxin was compared with placebo, 0.66; 95% confidence interval {CI}, 0.51–0.86; p=0.002). Digoxin also reduced both 30-day cardiovascular (3.5% vs. 6.5%; HR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.38–0.72; p<0.001) and heart failure (1.7 vs. 4.2%; HR, 0.40; 95% CI, 0.26–0.62; p<0.001) hospitalizations, with similar trends for 30-day all-cause mortality (0.7% vs. 1.3%; HR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.27–1.11; p=0.096). Younger patients were at lower risk of events but obtained similar benefits from digoxin.
Digoxin reduces 30-day all-cause hospital admission in ambulatory older patients with chronic systolic heart failure. Future studies need to examine its effect on 30-day all-cause hospital readmission in hospitalized patients with acute heart failure.
PMCID: PMC3926199  PMID: 23490060
Digoxin; heart failure; 30-day all-cause hospital admission
16.  Frailty Consensus: A Call to Action 
Frailty is a clinical state in which there is an increase in an individual’s vulnerability for developing increased dependency and/or mortality when exposed to a stressor. Frailty can occur as the result of a range of diseases and medical conditions. A consensus group consisting of delegates from 6 major international, European, and US societies created 4 major consensus points on a specific form of frailty: physical frailty. Physical frailty is an important medical syndrome. The group defined physical frailty as “a medical syndrome with multiple causes and contributors that is characterized by diminished strength, endurance, and reduced physiologic function that increases an individual’s vulnerability for developing increased dependency and/or death.”Physical frailty can potentially be prevented or treated with specific modalities, such as exercise, protein-calorie supplementation, vitamin D, and reduction of polypharmacy.Simple, rapid screening tests have been developed and validated, such as the simple FRAIL scale, to allow physicians to objectively recognize frail persons.For the purposes of optimally managing individuals with physical frailty, all persons older than 70 years and all individuals with significant weight loss (≥5%) due to chronic disease should be screened for frailty.
PMCID: PMC4084863  PMID: 23764209
Frailty; physical frailty; rapid screening tests; weight loss; comorbidities
17.  Are we closer to having drugs to treat muscle wasting disease? 
The two most common muscle wasting diseases in adults are sarcopenia and cachexia. Despite differences in their pathophysiology, it is believed that both conditions are likely to respond to drugs that increase muscle mass and muscle strength. The current gold standard in this regard is exercise training. This article provides an overview of candidate drugs to treat muscle wasting disease that are available or in development. Drugs highlighted here include ghrelin agonists, selective androgen receptor molecules, megestrol acetate, activin receptor antagonists, espindolol, and fast skeletal muscle troponin inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC4053564  PMID: 24865381
18.  The anabolic catabolic transforming agent (ACTA) espindolol increases muscle mass and decreases fat mass in old rats 
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.
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.
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.
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.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13539-013-0125-7) contains supplementary material.
PMCID: PMC4053568  PMID: 24272787
Sarcopenia; Anabolic catabolic transforming agent (ACTA); Espindolol; Muscle mass; Fat mass
19.  Lack of evidence of increased mortality among patients with atrial fibrillation taking digoxin: findings from post hoc propensity-matched analysis of the AFFIRM trial 
European Heart Journal  2013;34(20):1489-1497.
Digoxin is recommended for long-term rate control in paroxysmal, persistent, and permanent atrial fibrillation (AF). While some analyses suggest an association of digoxin with a higher mortality in AF, the intrinsic nature of this association has not been examined in propensity-matched cohorts, which is the objective of the current study.
Methods and results
In Atrial Fibrillation Follow-up Investigation of Rhythm Management (AFFIRM), 4060 patients with paroxysmal and persistent AF were randomized to rate (n = 2027) vs. rhythm (n = 2033) control strategies. Of these, 1377 received digoxin as initial therapy and 1329 received no digoxin at baseline. Propensity scores for digoxin use were estimated for each of these 2706 patients and used to assemble a cohort of 878 pairs of patients receiving and not receiving digoxin, who were balanced on 59 baseline characteristics. Matched patients had a mean age of 70 years, 40% were women, and 11% non-white. During the 3.4 years of the mean follow-up, all-cause mortality occurred in 14 and 13% of matched patients receiving and not receiving digoxin, respectively [hazard ratio (HR) associated with digoxin use: 1.06; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.83–1.37; P = 0.640]. Among matched patients, digoxin had no association with all-cause hospitalization (HR: 0.96; 95% CI: 0.85–1.09; P = 0.510) or incident non-fatal cardiac arrhythmias (HR: 0.90; 95% CI: 0.37–2.23; P = 0.827). Digoxin had no multivariable-adjusted or propensity score-adjusted associations with these outcomes in the pre-match cohort.
In patients with paroxysmal and persistent AF, we found no evidence of increased mortality or hospitalization in those taking digoxin as baseline initial therapy.
PMCID: PMC3659306  PMID: 23592708
Atrial fibrillation; Digoxin; Hospitalization; Mortality; Propensity score
20.  Effect of oral digoxin in high-risk heart failure patients: a pre-specified subgroup analysis of the DIG trial† 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2013;15(5):551-559.
In the Digitalis Investigation Group (DIG) trial, digoxin reduced mortality or hospitalization due to heart failure (HF) in several pre-specified high-risk subgroups of HF patients, but data on protocol-specified 2-year outcomes were not presented. In the current study, we examined the effect of digoxin on HF death or HF hospitalization and all-cause death or all-cause hospitalization in high-risk subgroups during the protocol-specified 2 years of post-randomization follow-up.
Methods and results
In the DIG trial, 6800 ambulatory patients with chronic HF, normal sinus rhythm, and LVEF ≤45% (mean age 64 years, 26% women, 17% non-whites) were randomized to receive digoxin or placebo. The three high-risk groups were defined as NYHA class III–IV symptoms (n = 2223), LVEF <25% (n = 2256), and cardiothoracic ratio (CTR) >55% (n = 2345). In all three high-risk subgroups, compared with patients in the placebo group, those in the digoxin group had a significant reduction in the risk of the 2-year composite endpoint of HF mortality or HF hospitalization: NYHA III–IV [hazard ratio (HR) 0.65; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.57–0.75; P < 0.001], LVEF <25% (HR 0.61; 95% CI 0.53–0.71; P < 0.001), and CTR >55% (HR 0.65; 95% CI 0.57–0.75; P < 0.001). Digoxin-associated HRs (95% CI) for 2-year all-cause mortality or all-cause hospitalization for subgroups with NYHA III–IV, LVEF <25%, and CTR >55% were 0.88 (0.80–0.97; P = 0.012), 0.84 (0.76–0.93; P = 0.001), and 0.85 (0.77–0.94; P = 0.002), respectively.
Digoxin improves outcomes in chronic HF patients with NYHA class III–IV, LVEF <25%, or CTR >55%, and should be considered in these patients.
PMCID: PMC3707428  PMID: 23355060
Digoxin; Heart Failure; High risk; Morbidity; Mortality
21.  Iron status in patients with chronic heart failure 
European Heart Journal  2012;34(11):827-834.
The changes in iron status occurring during the course of heart failure (HF) and the underlying pathomechanisms are largely unknown. Hepcidin, the major regulatory protein for iron metabolism, may play a causative role. We investigated iron status in a broad spectrum of patients with systolic HF in order to determine the changes in iron status in parallel with disease progression, and to associate iron status with long-term prognosis.
Methods and results
Serum concentrations of ferritin, transferrin saturation (Tsat), soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR), and hepcidin were assessed as the biomarkers of iron status in 321 patients with chronic systolic HF [age: 61 ± 11 years, men: 84%, left ventricular ejection fraction: 31 ± 9%, New York Heart Association (NYHA) class: 72/144/87/18] at a tertiary cardiology centre and 66 age- and gender-matched healthy subjects. Compared with healthy subjects, asymptomatic HF patients had similar haematological status, but increased iron stores (evidenced by higher serum ferritin without distinct inflammation, P < 0.01) with markedly elevated serum hepcidin (P < 0.001). With increasing HF severity, patients in advanced NYHA classes had iron deficiency (ID) (reduced serum ferritin, low Tsat, high sTfR), iron-restricted erythropoiesis (reduced haemoglobin, high red cell distribution width), and inflammation (high serum high-sensitivity-C-reactive protein and interleukin 6), which was accompanied by decreased circulating hepcidin (all P < 0.001). In multivariable Cox models, low hepcidin was independently associated with increased 3-year mortality among HF patients (P < 0.001).
Increased level of circulating hepcidin characterizes an early stage of HF, and is not accompanied by either anaemia or inflammation. The progression of HF is associated with the decline in circulating hepcidin and the development of ID. Low hepcidin independently relates to unfavourable outcome.
PMCID: PMC3697803  PMID: 23178646
Heart failure; Iron deficiency; Ferritin; Hepcidin; Prognosis
22.  From sarcopenia to frailty: a road less traveled 
The physical frailty phenotype consists of fatigue, weight loss, and loss of muscle power. Sarcopenia has been shown to be a major cause of frailty. Six societies including SCWD published a consensus suggesting that all persons older than 70 years of age should be screened for frailty when seeing health professionals. Simple screening tests such as the FRAIL (fatigue, resistance, aerobic, illness, and loss of weight) scale can be used. It is felt that frailty can be treated by exercise (resistance and aerobic), high quality protein, vitamin D, and treatment of the common causes of fatigue. It is expected that this approach will decrease disability in older persons.
PMCID: PMC3953315  PMID: 24526568
23.  Highlights from the 7th Cachexia Conference: muscle wasting pathophysiological detection and novel treatment strategies 
This article highlights preclinical and clinical studies in the field of wasting disorders that were presented at the 7th Cachexia Conference held in Kobe, Japan, in December 2013. This year, the main topics were the development of new methods and new biomarkers in the field of cachexia and wasting disorders with particular focus on inflammatory pathways, growth differentiation factor-15, myostatin, the ubiquitin proteasome-dependent pathway, valosin and the regulation of ubiquitin-specific protease 19 that is involved in the differentiation of myogenin and myosin heavy chain. This article presents highlights from the development of drugs that have shown potential in the treatment of wasting disorders, particularly the ghrelin receptor agonist anamorelin, the myostatin antagonist REGN1033, the selective androgen receptor modulators enobosarm and TEI-E0001, and the anabolic catabolic transforming agent espindolol. In addition, novel data on the prevalence and detection methods of muscle wasting/sarcopenia are presented, including the D3-creatine dilution method and several new biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC3953317  PMID: 24595460
Cachexia; Muscle  wasting; Sarcopenia; Therapy
24.  Muscle wasting disease: a proposal for a new disease classification 
Muscle wasting and cachexia are the ultimate consequence of aging and a variety of acute and chronic illnesses. Significant efforts are made by many stakeholders to develop effective therapies. An important aspect of successful therapeutic development research is a common nomenclature for effective communication between researchers and clinicians, to the public, and also with regulatory bodies. Despite several efforts to develop consensus definitions for cachexia and sarcopenia, including such new terms for muscle wasting as myopenia, a common conceptual approach and acceptable vocabulary and classification system are yet to be established. Notwithstanding the potential need to translate such disease definitions and terminologies into different languages, we advocate the use of the term “muscle wasting” as the unifying entity that represents the single most common disease process across a large spectrum of cachexia and in sarcopenia-associated disorders. In this paper, we outline a first proposal for the disease nomenclature and classification of “Muscle Wasting Diseases.” This concept can be applied in acute and chronic disease settings. It is pertinent for wasting diseases, cachexia, and sarcopenia of any severity and due to any underlying illness. The concept of muscle wasting disease underscores the most common denominator of the underlying wasting processes, i.e., muscle wasting, without ignoring the advanced disease states that are also accompanied by fat tissue wasting. The term muscle wasting disease is easily understood by both the scientific community and the lay public. This may promote its general use and efforts to heighten education and awareness in the field.
PMCID: PMC3953318  PMID: 24595459
Cachexia; Sarcopenia; Muscle wasting disease; Definition; Treatment development
25.  Relation of respiratory muscle strength, cachexia and survival in severe chronic heart failure 
Respiratory muscle (RM) function predicts prognosis in non-cachectic patients with chronic heart failure (CHF). We hypothesized that weakness of RM (maximum inspiratory mouth occlusion pressure, Pimax) is a function of body mass index, and that outcome is more a function of BMI than of Pimax or ventilatory drive (P0.1).
Subjects and methods
We enrolled 249 CHF patients (11.2 % female, median age 54.2 years) at the German Heart Institute Berlin. Patients were in NYHA classes I/II/III/IV by n = 16/90/108/35. All patients underwent tests of pulmonary function, RM (Pimax, P0.1), cardiopulmonary exercise testing (peakVO2, VE/VCO2-slope), and right heart catheterization.
Mean follow-up time was 18 (1–36) months, 47 patients (18.9 %) died or underwent cardiac assist implantation. Pimax correlated weakly with BMI (r = 0.19), peakVO2 (r = 0.15), and FEV1 (r = 0.34, all p < 0.02), and was lower in females compared to males (3.9 ± 1.7 vs. 6.6 ± 2.7 kPa; p < 0.001). P0.1 correlated with pulmonary pressure (rho = 0.2; p < 0.01) and peakVO2 (rho = −0.14; p < 0.02). Neither Pimax [hazard ratio (HR) 0.98; confidence interval (CI) 0.88–1.08] nor P0.1 (HR 0.52; 0.06–4.6) predicted survival. Multivariate regression analysis revealed gender, BMI, and FEV1 as cofactors of Pimax, with only BMI (HR 0.87; CI 0.80–0.95) predicting survival independently. The lowest quintile in BMI had the worst outcome (log-rank χ² = 13.5, p = 0.009).
In CHF patients including cachexia and NYHA IV, Pimax does not predict survival. Pimax depends on gender, BMI, FEV1, and peakVO2, with only BMI and peakVO2 predicting survival. The impaired Pimax in CHF might be a result of catabolism and weight loss and is not a predictive factor in itself.
PMCID: PMC3830005  PMID: 23794292
Cachexia; Chronic heart failure; Respiratory muscle; Prognosis

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