American Physiological Society, American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology, 2020
Small non-coding microRNAs (miRNAs) are important regulators of skeletal muscle size and circulating miRNAs within extracellular vesicles (EVs) may contribute to atrophy and its associated systemic effects. The purpose of this study was to understand how muscle atrophy and regrowth alters in vivo serum EV miRNA content. We also associated changes in serum EV miRNA with protein synthesis, protein degradation and miRNA within muscle, kidney and liver. We subjected adult (10 mo.) F334/BN rats to 3 conditions: weight-bearing (WB), hindlimb suspension (HS) for 7 days to induce muscle atrophy, and HS for 7 days followed by 7 days of reloading (HSR). Microarray analysis of EV miRNA content showed that the overall changes in serum EV miRNA were predicted to target major anabolic, catabolic, and mechanosensitive pathways. MiR-203a-3p was the only miRNA demonstrating substantial differences in HS EVs compared with WB. There was a limited association of EV miRNA content to the corresponding miRNA content within the muscle, kidney or liver. Stepwise linear regression demonstrated that EV miR-203a-3p was correlated with muscle mass, and muscle protein synthesis and degradation across all conditions. Finally, EV miR-203a-3p expression was significantly decreased in human subjects that underwent unilateral lower limb suspension (ULLS) to induce muscle atrophy. Altogether, we show that serum EV miR-203a-3p expression is related to skeletal muscle protein turnover and atrophy. We suggest that serum EV miR-203a-3p content may be a useful biomarker and future work should investigate if serum EV miR-203a-3p content is mechanistically linked to protein synthesis and degradation.