Proteasome inhibition improves diaphragm function in an animal model for COPD

Hieronymus van Hees, Coen Ottenheijm, Leo Ennen, Marianne Linkels, Richard Dekhuijzen, Leo Heunks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Diaphragm muscle weakness in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Recent studies indicate that increased contractile protein degradation by the proteasome contributes to diaphragm weakness in patients with COPD. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of proteasome inhibition on diaphragm function and contractile protein concentration in an animal model for COPD. Elastase-induced emphysema in hamsters was used as an animal model for COPD; normal hamsters served as controls. Animals were either treated with the proteasome inhibitor Bortezomib (iv) or its vehicle saline. Nine months after induction of emphysema, specific force-generating capacity of diaphragm bundles was measured. Proteolytic activity of the proteasome was assayed spectrofluorometrically. Protein concentrations of proteasome, myosin, and actin were measured by means of Western blotting. Proteasome activity and concentration were significantly higher in the diaphragm of emphysematous hamsters than in normal hamsters. Bortezomib treatment reduced proteasome activity in the diaphragm of emphysematous and normal hamsters. Specific forcegenerating capacity and myosin concentration of the diaphragm were reduced by ~25% in emphysematous hamsters compared with normal hamsters. Bortezomib treatment of emphysematous hamsters significantly increased diaphragm-specific force-generating capacity and completely restored myosin concentration. Actin concentration was not affected by emphysema, nor by bortezomib treatment. We conclude that treatment with a proteasome inhibitor improves contractile function of the diaphragm in emphysematous hamsters through restoration of myosin concentration. These findings implicate that the proteasome is a potential target of pharmacological intervention on diaphragm weakness in COPD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-116
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Contractile proteins
  • Respiratory muscle function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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