Molecular adaptations to aerobic exercise training in skeletal muscle of older women

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2010 Nov;65(11):1201-7. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glq109. Epub 2010 Jun 21.


Background: We have recently shown that 12 weeks of progressive aerobic exercise training improves whole-muscle size and function in older women. The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate molecular markers that may be associated with muscle hypertrophy after aerobic training in aging skeletal muscle.

Methods: Muscle biopsies were obtained before and after 12 weeks of aerobic exercise training on a cycle ergometer in nine older women (70 ± 2 years) to determine basal levels of messenger RNA and protein content of select myogenic, proteolytic, and mitochondrial factors.

Results: The training program increased (p < .05) aerobic capacity 30 ± 9%, whole-muscle cross-sectional area 11 ± 2%, and whole-muscle force production 29 ± 8%. Basal messenger RNA levels of FOXO3A, myostatin, HSP70, and MRF4 were lower (p < .05) after aerobic training. FOXO3A, FOXO3A phosphorylation, and HSP70 protein content were unaltered after training. Mitochondrial protein COX IV was elevated (p < .05) 33 ± 7% after aerobic training, whereas PGC-1α protein content was 20 ± 5% lower (p < .05).

Conclusions: These data suggest that reductions in FOXO3A and myostatin messenger RNA are potentially associated with exercise-induced muscle hypertrophy. Additionally, it appears that mitochondrial biogenesis can occur with aerobic training in older women independent of increased PGC-1α protein. Aerobic exercise training alters molecular factors related to the regulation of skeletal muscle, which supports the beneficial role of aerobic training for improving muscle health in older women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Biopsy
  • Blotting, Western
  • Body Composition
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Forkhead Box Protein O3
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Myostatin / metabolism
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha
  • Phosphorylation
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • FOXO3 protein, human
  • Forkhead Box Protein O3
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • MSTN protein, human
  • Myostatin
  • PPARGC1A protein, human
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transcription Factors