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Am J Physiol. 1994 Aug;267(2 Pt 2):R439-45.

Aging and exercise training in skeletal muscle: responses of glutathione and antioxidant enzyme systems.

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Department of Kinesiology, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801.


Glutathione (GSH) content and antioxidant enzyme activities were investigated in skeletal muscle of young, adult, and old male Fischer 344 rats. Furthermore, the effect of 10 wk of exercise training on these antioxidant systems was evaluated at all ages. In the soleus muscle, GSH concentration increased markedly with age, with no significant change in glutathione disulfide (GSSG) content. Training caused a 30% decrease of GSH (P < 0.05) in the soleus of young rats and a reduction of the GSH-to-GSSG ratio at all ages. Activity of gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT), a key enzyme for GSH uptake by muscle, was also significantly decreased with training. GSH, GSSG, and the GSH-to-GSSG ratio were not altered with aging or training in the deep portion of vastus lateralis muscle (DVL). Activities of GSH peroxidase (GPX), GSSG reductase (GR), superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and GSH sulfur-transferase were increased significantly with aging in both soleus and DVL. In DVL, training increased GPX and SOD activities in the young rats, whereas in soleus, training decreased GR and CAT activities in the adult rats and GGT and CAT activities in the old rats. Muscle lipid peroxidation was significantly increased with aging in both DVL and soleus but was not affected by training. These data indicate that aging may cause not only an overall elevation of antioxidant enzyme activities but also a fiber-specific adaptation of GSH system in skeletal muscle. Exercise training, although increasing selective antioxidant enzymes in the young rats, does not offer additional protection against oxidative stress in the senescent muscle.

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