Advances in cancer cachexia: Intersection between affected organs, mediators, and pharmacological interventions

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53 Scopus citations


Advanced cancer patients exhibit cachexia, a condition characterized by a significant reduction in the body weight predominantly from loss of skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. Cachexia is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality in cancer patients. Decreased food intake and multi-organ energy imbalance in cancer patients worsen the cachexia syndrome. Cachectic cancer patients have a low tolerance for chemo- and radiation therapies and also have a reduced quality of life. The presence of tumors and the current treatment options for cancer further exacerbate the cachexia condition, which remains an unmet medical need. The onset of cachexia involves crosstalk between different organs leading to muscle wasting. Recent advancements in understanding the molecular mechanisms of skeletal muscle atrophy/hypertrophy and adipose tissue wasting/browning provide a platform for the development of new targeted therapies. Therefore, a better understanding of this multifactorial disorder will help to improve the quality of life of cachectic patients. In this review, we summarize the metabolic mediators of cachexia, their molecular functions, affected organs especially with respect to muscle atrophy and adipose browning and then discuss advanced therapeutic approaches to cancer cachexia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number188359
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Reviews on Cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Adipose tissue browning
  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Cytokines
  • Mediators
  • Skeletal muscle wasting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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