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Physiol Genomics. 2009 Jul 9;38(2):169-75. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00056.2009. Epub 2009 May 12.

Muscle expression of genes associated with inflammation, growth, and remodeling is strongly correlated in older adults with resistance training outcomes.

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Geriatric Reasearch, Education, and Clinical Center, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, No. Little Rock, Arkansas 72114-1706, USA.


A group (n = 8) of healthy older (68 +/- 6 yr) adults participated in a 36-session progressive resistance exercise training program targeting the thigh muscles to determine the relationship between muscle gene expression and gains in muscle size and strength. Biopsies were obtained from the vastus lateralis at baseline 72 h after an acute bout of exercise and 72 h after completion of the training program. Training increased thigh muscle size (7%) and strength for the three exercises performed: knee extension (30%) and curl (28%) and leg press (20%). We quantified 18 transcripts encoding factors that function in inflammation, growth, and muscle remodeling that were demonstrated previously to be regulated by aging and acute exercise. The gain in extension strength and muscle size showed a high number of significant correlations with gene expression. These gains were most strongly correlated (P < or = 0.003, R > or = 0.89) with the baseline mRNA levels for insulin-like growth factor-1, matrix metalloproteinase-2 and its inhibitor TIMP1, and ciliary neurotrophic factor. Moreover, strength gains were inversely correlated with the change in these mRNA levels after training (P < or = 0.002 and R < or = -0.90). Changes in gene expression after acute exercise were not associated with training outcomes. These results suggest that higher baseline expression for key genes in muscle conveys an adaptive advantage for certain older adults. Individuals with lower baseline expression of these genes show less adaptation to exercise despite increased gene expression in response to training. These genes hold promise as useful predictors of training outcomes that could be used to design more effective exercise regimens for maintaining muscle function in older adults.

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