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Cancer cachexia is a devastating metabolic syndrome characterized by systemic inflammation and massive muscle and adipose tissue wasting. Although it is responsible for approximately one-third of cancer deaths, no effective therapies are available and the underlying mechanisms have not been fully elucidated. We previously identified the bromodomain and extra-terminal domain (BET) protein BRD4 as an epigenetic regulator of muscle mass. Here we show that the pan-BET inhibitor (+)-JQ1 protects tumor-bearing mice from body weight loss and muscle and adipose tissue wasting. Remarkably, in C26-tumor-bearing mice (+)-JQ1 administration dramatically prolongs survival, without directly affecting tumor growth. By ChIP-seq and ChIP analyses, we unveil that BET proteins directly promote the muscle atrophy program during cachexia. In addition, BET proteins are required to coordinate an IL6-dependent AMPK nuclear signaling pathway converging on FoxO3 transcription factor. Overall, these findings indicate that BET proteins may represent a promising therapeutic target in the management of cancer cachexia.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

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