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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2013, Article ID 643954, 7 pages
Review Article

Muscle Wasting in Hemodialysis Patients: New Therapeutic Strategies for Resolving an Old Problem

Division of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine, Tri-Service General Hospital, National Defense Medical Center, No. 325, Section 2, Cheng-Gong Road, Neihu, Taipei 114, Taiwan

Received 15 September 2013; Accepted 28 October 2013

Academic Editors: F. Hinoshita and R. Sakai

Copyright © 2013 Chun-Ting Chen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Muscle wasting has long been recognized as a major clinical problem in hemodialysis (HD) patients. In addition to its impact on quality of life, muscle wasting has been proven to be associated with increased mortality rates. Identification of the molecular mechanisms underlying muscle wasting in HD patients provides opportunities to resolve this clinical problem. Several signaling pathways and humeral factors have been reported to be involved in the pathogenic mechanisms of muscle wasting in HD patients, including ubiquitin-proteasome system, caspase-3, insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) signaling, endogenous glucocorticoids, metabolic acidosis, inflammation, and sex hormones. Targeting the aforementioned crucial signaling and molecules to suppress protein degradation and augment muscle strength has been extensively investigated in HD patients. In addition to exercise training, administration of megestrol acetate has been proven to be effective in improving anorexia and muscle wasting in HD patients. Correction of metabolic acidosis through sodium bicarbonate supplements can decrease muscle protein degradation and hormone therapy with nandrolone decanoate has been reported to increase muscle mass. Although thiazolidinedione has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, its role in the treatment of muscle wasting remains unclear. This review paper focuses on the molecular pathways and potential new therapeutic approaches to muscle wasting in HD patients.