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J Physiol. 2012 Feb 1;590(3):595-606. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2011.216135. Epub 2011 Dec 12.

Pro- and anti-angiogenic factors in human skeletal muscle in response to acute exercise and training.

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Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 13, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.


This study examined the effect of acute exercise and 4 weeks of aerobic training on skeletal muscle gene and protein expression of pro- and anti-angiogenic factors in 14 young male subjects. Training consisted of 60 min of cycling (∼60% of ), 3 times/week. Biopsies were obtained from vastus lateralis muscle before and after training. Muscle interstitial fluid was collected during cycling at weeks 0 and 4. Training increased (P < 0.05) the capillary: fibre ratio and capillary density by 23% and 12%, respectively. The concentration of interstitial vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in response to acute exercise increased similarly (>6-fold; P < 0.05) before and after training. Resting protein levels of soluble VEGF receptor-1 in interstitial fluid, and of VEGF, thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) and tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP1) in muscle were unaffected by training, whereas endothelial nitric oxide synthase protein levels in muscle increased by 50% (P < 0.05). Before and after training, acute exercise induced a similar increase (P < 0.05) in the mRNA level of angiopoietin 2, matrix metalloproteinase 9 and TSP-1. After training, TIMP1 mRNA content increased with exercise (P < 0.05). In conclusion, acute exercise induced a similar increase in the gene-expression of both pro- and anti-angiogenic factors in untrained and trained muscle. We propose that the increase in anti-angiogenic factors with exercise is important for modulation of angiogenesis. The lack of effect of training on basal muscle VEGF protein levels and VEGF secretion during exercise suggests that increased VEGF levels are not a prerequisite for exercise-induced capillary growth in healthy muscle.

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