The myokine Fibcd1 is an endogenous determinant of myofiber size and mitigates cancer-induced myofiber atrophy

Decline in skeletal muscle cell size (myofiber atrophy) is a key feature of cancer-induced wasting (cachexia). In particular, atrophy of the diaphragm, the major muscle responsible for breathing, is an important determinant of cancer-associated mortality. However, therapeutic options are limited. Here, we have used Drosophila transgenic screening to identify muscle-secreted factors (myokines) that act as paracrine regulators of myofiber growth. Subsequent testing in mouse myotubes revealed that mouse Fibcd1 is an evolutionary-conserved myokine that preserves myofiber size via ERK signaling. Local administration of recombinant Fibcd1 (rFibcd1) ameliorates cachexia-induced myofiber atrophy in the diaphragm of mice bearing patient-derived melanoma xenografts and LLC carcinomas. Moreover, rFibcd1 impedes cachexia-associated transcriptional changes in the diaphragm. Fibcd1-induced signaling appears to be muscle selective because rFibcd1 increases ERK activity in myotubes but not in several cancer cell lines tested. We propose that rFibcd1 may help reinstate myofiber size in the diaphragm of patients with cancer cachexia.