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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2019 May 1;316(5):C649-C654. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00050.2019. Epub 2019 Mar 6.

Elevated myonuclear density during skeletal muscle hypertrophy in response to training is reversed during detraining.


Myonuclei gained during exercise-induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy may be long-lasting and could facilitate future muscle adaptability after deconditioning, a concept colloquially termed "muscle memory." The evidence for this is limited, mostly due to the lack of a murine exercise-training paradigm that is nonsurgical and reversible. To address this limitation, we developed a novel progressive weighted-wheel-running (PoWeR) model of murine exercise training to test whether myonuclei gained during exercise persist after detraining. We hypothesized that myonuclei acquired during training-induced hypertrophy would remain following loss of muscle mass with detraining. Singly housed female C57BL/6J mice performed 8 wk of PoWeR, while another group performed 8 wk of PoWeR followed by 12 wk of detraining. Age-matched sedentary cage-dwelling mice served as untrained controls. Eight weeks of PoWeR yielded significant plantaris muscle fiber hypertrophy, a shift to a more oxidative phenotype, and greater myonuclear density than untrained mice. After 12 wk of detraining, the plantaris muscle returned to an untrained phenotype with fewer myonuclei. A finding of fewer myonuclei simultaneously with plantaris deconditioning argues against a muscle memory mechanism mediated by elevated myonuclear density in primarily fast-twitch muscle. PoWeR is a novel, practical, and easy-to-deploy approach for eliciting robust hypertrophy in mice, and our findings can inform future research on the mechanisms underlying skeletal muscle adaptive potential and muscle memory.


exercise; muscle memory; myonuclear accretion; satellite cell; weighted-wheel running

PMID: 30840493
PMCID: PMC6580158 [Available on 2020-05-01]
DOI: 10.1152/ajpcell.00050.2019