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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2001 May;90(5):1900-8.

Cardiac and skeletal muscle adaptations to voluntary wheel running in the mouse.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder 80309-0347, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Appl Physiol 2001 Sep;91(3):following table of contents.


In this paper, we describe the effects of voluntary cage wheel exercise on mouse cardiac and skeletal muscle. Inbred male C57/Bl6 mice (age 6-8 wk; n = 12) [corrected] ran an average of 4.3 h/24 h, for an average distance of 6.8 km/24 h, and at an average speed of 26.4 m/min. A significant increase in the ratio of heart mass to body mass (mg/g) was evident after 2 wk of voluntary exercise, and cardiac atrial natriuretic factor and brain natriuretic peptide mRNA levels were significantly increased in the ventricles after 4 wk of voluntary exercise. A significant increase in the percentage of fibers expressing myosin heavy chain (MHC) IIa was observed in both the gastrocnemius and the tibialis anterior (TA) by 2 wk, and a significant decrease in the percentage of fibers expressing IIb MHC was evident in both muscles after 4 wk of voluntary exercise. The TA muscle showed a greater increase in the percentage of IIa MHC-expressing fibers than did the gastrocnemius muscle (40 and 20%, respectively, compared with 10% for nonexercised). Finally, the number of oxidative fibers as revealed by NADH-tetrazolium reductase histochemical staining was increased in the TA but not the gastrocnemius after 4 wk of voluntary exercise. All results are relative to age-matched mice housed without access to running wheels. Together these data demonstrate that voluntary exercise in mice results in cardiac and skeletal muscle adaptations consistent with endurance exercise.

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