Mechanical signal transduction in skeletal muscle growth and adaptation

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2005 May;98(5):1900-8. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01178.2004.


The adaptability of skeletal muscle to changes in the mechanical environment has been well characterized at the tissue and system levels, but the mechanisms through which mechanical signals are transduced to chemical signals that influence muscle growth and metabolism remain largely unidentified. However, several findings have suggested that mechanical signal transduction in muscle may occur through signaling pathways that are shared with insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I. The involvement of IGF-I-mediated signaling for mechanical signal transduction in muscle was originally suggested by the observations that muscle releases IGF-I on mechanical stimulation, that IGF-I is a potent agent for promoting muscle growth and affecting phenotype, and that IGF-I can function as an autocrine hormone in muscle. Accumulating evidence shows that at least two signaling pathways downstream of IGF-I binding can influence muscle growth and adaptation. Signaling via the calcineurin/nuclear factor of activated T-cell pathway has been shown to have a powerful influence on promoting the slow/type I phenotype in muscle but can also increase muscle mass. Neural stimulation of muscle can activate this pathway, although whether neural activation of the pathway can occur independent of mechanical activation or independent of IGF-I-mediated signaling remains to be explored. Signaling via the Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin pathway can also increase muscle growth, and recent findings show that activation of this pathway can occur as a response to mechanical stimulation applied directly to muscle cells, independent of signals derived from other cells. In addition, mechanical activation of mammalian target of rapamycin, Akt, and other downstream signals is apparently independent of autocrine factors, which suggests that activation of the mechanical pathway occurs independent of muscle-mediated IGF-I release.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / growth & development*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology