Our group is primarily interested in the biological role of the secreted proteome of skeletal muscle in health and disease. We have demonstrated that skeletal muscle is a bona fide endocrine organ, capable of mediating tissue cross-talk via peptides or proteins termed myokines.

Our particular focus has been on the prototypical myokine Interleukin-6, and we continue to explore its complex role in metabolism in metabolic disease contexts. We have also adopted proteomic techniques for the discovery of novel myokine candidates, secreted from muscle during physical activity and prolonged exercise.

Since physical activity represents such a broad and effective preventative treatment for a host of non-communicable diseases, our aim is to characterise more closely the therapeutic potential of muscle derived secreted proteins for metabolic disease and cancer.

Selected Publications

Whitham, M & Febbraio, M.A (2016) The ever-expanding myokinome: discovery challenges and therapeutic implications. Nature Reviews: Drug Discovery (In press)

Pal, M., Febbraio, M. A. & Whitham, M. From cytokine to myokine: the emerging role of interleukin-6 in metabolic regulation. Immunology and Cell Biology 92,331-339  (2014). 

Kraakman, M.J, Allen, T.L, Whitham, M, Iliades, P, Kammoun, H.L, Estevez, E, Lancaster, G.I, Febbraio, M.A (2013) Targeting gp130 to prevent inflammation and promote insulin action. Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism 15(suppl 3) 170-175

Whitham, M., Chan, M.H.S, Pal, M, Matthews, V.B, Prelovsek, O, Lunke, S, El-Osta, A, Broenneke, H, Alber, J, Bruning, J.C, Wunderlich, F.T, Lancaster, G.I & Febbraio, M.A (2012) Contraction induced IL-6 gene transcription in skeletal muscle is regulated by c-jun terminal kinase/Activator protein-1. Journal of Biological Chemistry 287 10771-10779. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.310581

Allen, T.L., Whitham, M. & Febbraio, M.A (2012) IL-6 muscles in on the gut and pancreas to enhance insulin secretion. Cell Metabolism 15(1) 8-9

Hansen, J., Brandt, C., Nielsen, A.R., Hojman, P., Whitham, M., Febbraio, M.A, Pedersen, B.K., and Plomgaard, P. (2011) Exercise induces a marked increase in plasma follistatin: evidence that follistatin is a contraction-induced hepatokine. Endocrinology 152(1), 164-71

Fortes, M.B. & Whitham, M. (2011) Salivary Hsp72 does not track exercise stress and caffeine stimulated plasma Hsp72 responses in humans. Cell Stress & Chaperones 16(3):345-52

Fortes, M.B. & Whitham, M. (2009) No endogenous circadian rhythm in resting plasma Hsp72 concentration in humans. Cell Stress and Chaperones (2009) 14(3): 273


More Garvan Publications

Staff in the Group

Lena Cron

Visiting Student

Viviane Chen

Honours Student

Tim Petzold

Researcher Trainee

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