Cachexia (Muscle Wasting)

Cachexia (Muscle Wasting)


Cachexia is a severe muscle wasting syndrome that affects people with a variety of chronic conditions including diabetes, cancer, and infectious disease. It is highly debilitating and associated with reduced responsiveness to therapy and poor prognosis. Our understanding of the disease process has increased substantially over the past decade. We know that it is associated with a complicated mix of immune, metabolic, and inflammatory pathways, but the cause is still unknown, and the disease cannot be prevented after the process has started. As a result, there is no cure or treatment for cachexia.

San Diego BioMed scientists are working to untangle the mysteries behind cachexia with the goal to help improve therapies.

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The Davies lab has identified an immune cell type that can substantially reduce the severity of cachexia in both type 1 diabetes (T1D) and cancer. Ongoing research is aimed at understanding whether these immune cells can be used as biomarkers to identify patients at risk of cachexia and whether enhancing the function of these cells might improve the effectiveness of therapies to prevent the onset of cachexia in patients with cancer.

Select Publications

Zhao C, Marrero I, Narsale A, Moya R, Davies JD. CD4+ CD44v.low cells are unique peripheral precursors that are distinct from recent thymic emigrants and stem cell-like memory cells. Cellular Immunology. 2015; 296:106-114.


Zhao C, Davies JD. A peripheral CD4+ T cell precursor for naïve, memory and regulatory T cells. J Exp Med. 2010;207(13):2883–94.


Zhao, C., Wang, Z., Robertson, M. W., and Davies, J. D. Cachexia in the non obese diabetic mouse is associated with CD4+ T cell lymphopenia. Immunology. 2008. 125:48-58.


Wang, Z., Zhao, C., Moya, R., Davies, J. D. A novel role for CD4+ T cells in the control of cachexia. J. Immunol. 2008. 181:4676-4684.


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Our research programs are funded primarily by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Private donations help to accelerate the progress of research through the purchase of laboratory supplies and equipment or the recruitment of additional laboratory personnel. Thank you!

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