A rat resistance exercise regimen attenuates losses of musculoskeletal mass during hindlimb suspension

J. D. Fluckey, E. E. Dupont-Versteegden, D. C. Montague, M. Knox, P. Tesch, C. A. Peterson, D. Gaddy-Kurten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Exposure to microgravity and/or spaceflight causes dramatic losses in both muscle and bone mass. In normal gravity, resistance exercise has been effectively used to increase muscle and bone mass. We tested a novel form of resistance exercise training using flywheel technology as a countermeasure to offset the loss of musculoskeletal mass during 4 weeks of adult rat hindlimb suspension (HS), an unloading model of microgravity. Male, Sprague-Dawley rats (6-month old) were operantly conditioned to perform resistance exercise, and then randomly assigned to groups of sedentary control (CON), HS, and HS with resistance exercise training (HSRT; 2 sets of ∼21 repetitions, 3 days week-1 for 4 weeks during suspension). In soleus, HS resulted in lower (P < 0.05) muscle mass to body mass ratio (∼50% of controls) and rates of protein synthesis. HSRT significantly attenuated the loss of muscle mass in soleus muscle, and rates of protein synthesis for soleus were similar for HSRT and controls. There were no differences among groups for mass or rates of protein synthesis in extensor digitorum longus. In cancellous regions of the distal femur, HS resulted in significant reductions of bone mineral density (BMD), but this was restored to control levels with HSRT. Cortical regions of the femur were not different among HS, HSRT or control groups. Together, these data suggest that resistance training using flywheel technology may be a promising tool to attenuate losses of the musculoskeletal system during periods of hindlimb unloading.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-300
Number of pages8
JournalActa Physiologica Scandinavica
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002


  • Bone mineral density
  • Flywheel technology
  • Muscle unloading
  • Rates of protein synthesis
  • Soleus muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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