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FASEB J. 2012 Apr;26(4):1413-22. doi: 10.1096/fj.11-196154. Epub 2011 Dec 16.

(-)-Epicatechin maintains endurance training adaptation in mice after 14 days of detraining.

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Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI 48201, USA.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether (-)-epicatechin (mainly found in cocoa) could attenuate detraining effects in the hindlimb muscles of mice. Thirty-two male mice were randomized into 4 groups: control, trained, trained with 14 d of detraining and vehicle (DT-14-W), and trained with 14 d of detraining and (-)-epicatechin [DT-14-(-)-Epi]. DT-14-(-)-Epi received (-)-epicatechin (1.0 mg/kg 2 ×/d), whereas water was given to the DT-14-W group. The latter 3 groups performed 5 wk of endurance training 5 ×/wk. Hindlimb muscles were harvested, and Western blots, as well as enzyme analyses, were performed. Training significantly increased capillary-to-fiber ratio (≈ 78.8%), cytochrome-c oxidase (≈ 35%), and activity (≈ 144%) compared to controls. These adaptations returned to control levels for the DT-14-W group, whereas the DT-14-(-)-Epi group was able to maintain capillary-to-fiber ratio (≈ 44%), CcO protein expression (≈ 45%), and activity (≈ 108%) above control levels. In addition, the increase in capillarity was related to decreased protein expression of thrombospondin-1, an antiangiogenic regulator. Furthermore, there were no significant differences in endurance capacity between the trained and DT-14-(-)-Epi groups. Our data suggest that (-)-epicatechin may be a suitable compound to maintain exercise-induced improved capillarity and mitochondrial capacity, even when exercise regimens are discontinued.

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