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J Physiol. 2013 Dec 15;591(24):6221-30. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2013.264457. Epub 2013 Oct 28.

A cellular memory mechanism aids overload hypertrophy in muscle long after an episodic exposure to anabolic steroids.

Author information

  • 1K. Gundersen: Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, PO Box 1066 Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway. kgunder@ibv.uio.no.

Abstract

Previous strength training with or without the use of anabolic steroids facilitates subsequent re-acquisition of muscle mass even after long intervening periods of inactivity. Based on in vivo and ex vivo microscopy we here propose a cellular memory mechanism residing in the muscle cells. Female mice were treated with testosterone propionate for 14 days, inducing a 66% increase in the number of myonuclei and a 77% increase in fibre cross-sectional area. Three weeks after removing the drug, fibre size was decreased to the same level as in sham treated animals, but the number of nuclei remained elevated for at least 3 months (>10% of the mouse lifespan). At this time, when the myonuclei-rich muscles were exposed to overload-exercise for 6 days, the fibre cross-sectional area increased by 31% while control muscles did not grow significantly. We suggest that the lasting, elevated number of myonuclei constitutes a cellular memory facilitating subsequent muscle overload hypertrophy. Our findings might have consequences for the exclusion time of doping offenders. Since the ability to generate new myonuclei is impaired in the elderly our data also invites speculation that it might be beneficial to perform strength training when young in order to benefit in senescence.

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PMID:
24167222
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3892473
Free PMC Article
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