Effect of flywheel-based resistance exercise on processes contributing to muscle atrophy during unloading in adult rats

Esther E. Dupont-Versteegden, James D. Fluckey, Micheal Knox, Dana Gaddy, Charlotte A. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Flywheel-based resistance exercise (RE) attenuates muscle atrophy during hindlimb suspension. We have previously shown that protein synthesis is elevated in response to RE, but the effect on protein degradation, cell proliferation, or apoptosis was not investigated. We hypothesized that, in addition to affecting protein synthesis, RE inhibits processes that actively contribute to muscle atrophy during hindlimb suspension. Male rats were housed in regular cages (control), tail suspended for 2 wk (HS), or HS with RE every other day for 2 wk (HSRE). Although RE attenuated soleus muscle atrophy during HS, the observed fivefold elevation in apoptosis and the 53% decrease in cell proliferation observed with HS were unaffected by RE. Expression of genes encoding components of the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway of protein degradation were elevated with HS, including ubiquitin, MAFbx, Murf-1, Nedd4, and XIAP, and proteasome subunits C2 and C9. Total ubiquitinated protein was increased with HS, but proteasome activity was not different from control. RE selectively altered the expression of different components of this pathway: MAFbx, Murf-1, and ubiquitin mRNA abundance were downregulated, whereas C2 and C9 subunits remained elevated. Similarly, Nedd4 and XIAP continued to be upregulated, potentially accounting for the observed augmentation in total ubiquitinated protein with RE. Thus a different constellation of proteins is likely ubiquitinated with RE due to altered ubiquitin ligase composition. In summary, the flywheel-based resistance exercise paradigm used in this study is associated with the inhibition of some mechanisms associated with muscle atrophy, such as the increase in MAFbx and Murf-1, but not with others, such as proteasome subunit remodeling, apoptosis, and decreased proliferation, potentially accounting for the inability to completely restore muscle mass. Identifying specific exercise parameters that affect these latter processes may be useful in designing effective exercise strategies in the elderly or during spaceflight.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-212
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


  • Apoptosis
  • MAFbx
  • Murf-1
  • Nedd4
  • Satellite cells
  • XIAP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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