Resistance exercise training promotes fiber type-specific myonuclear adaptations in older adults

Tatiana Moro, Camille R. Brightwell, Elena Volpi, Blake B. Rasmussen, Christopher S. Fry

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33 Scopus citations


Resistance exercise training promotes fiber type-specific myonuclear adaptations in older adults. J Appl Physiol 128: 795 804, 2020. First published March 5, 2020; doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00723.2019. Aging induces physiological decline in human skeletal muscle function and morphology, including type II fiber atrophy and an increase in type I fiber frequency. Resistance exercise training (RET) is an effective strategy to overcome muscle mass loss and improve strength, with a stronger effect on type II fibers. In the present study, we sought to determine the effect of a 12-wk progressive RET program on the fiber type-specific skeletal muscle hypertrophic response in older adults. Nineteen subjects [10 men and 9 women (71.1 < 4.3 yr)] were studied before and after the 12-wk program. Immunohistochemical analysis was used to quantify myosin heavy chain (MyHC) isoform expression, cross-sectional area (CSA), satellite cell abundance, myonuclear content, and lipid droplet density. RET induced an increase in MyHC type II fiber frequency and a concomitant decrease in MyHC type I fiber frequency. Mean CSA increased significantly only in MyHC type II fibers (<23.3%, P < 0.05), but myonuclear content increased only in MyHC type I fibers (P < 0.05), with no change in MyHC type II fibers. Satellite cell content increased ~40% in both fiber types (P < 0.05). RET induced adaptations to the capillary supply to satellite cells, with the distance between satellite cells and the nearest capillary increasing in type I fibers and decreasing in type II fibers. Both fiber types showed similar decrements in intramuscular lipid density with training (P < 0.05). Our data provide intriguing evidence for a fiber type-specific response to RET in older adults and suggest flexibility in the myonuclear domain of type II fibers during a hypertrophic stimulus. NEW & NOTEWORTHY In older adults, progressive resistance exercise training (RET) increased skeletal muscle fiber volume and cross-sectional area independently of myonuclear accretion, leading to an expansion of the myonuclear domain. Fiber type-specific analyses illuminated differential adaptation; type II fibers underwent hypertrophy and exhibited myonuclear domain plasticity, whereas myonuclear accretion occurred in type I fibers in the absence of a robust hypertrophic response. RET also augmented satellite cell-capillary interaction and reduced intramyocellular lipid density to improve muscle quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)795-804
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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