The role of nuclear factor-erythroid 2 p45-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) redox signaling has not been characterized in human skeletal muscle despite an extensive delineation of oxidative stress in the etiology of aging and sarcopenia. We assessed whether the age-associated decline in antioxidant response is due, at least in part, to dysfunction in Nrf2-Keap1 redox signaling. We also evaluated whether an active lifestyle can conserve skeletal muscle cellular redox status via activation of Nrf2-Keap1 signaling. Here we show that a recreationally active lifestyle is associated with the activation of upstream modulators that induce the Nrf2-mediated antioxidant response cascade in skeletal muscle of the elderly. Conversely, a sedentary lifestyle is negatively associated with these adaptations mainly because of dysregulation of Nrf2-Keap1 redox signaling that renders the intracellular environment prone to reactive oxygen species-mediated toxicity. Our results indicate that an active lifestyle is an important determinant of cellular redox status. We propose that the metabolic induction of Nrf2-Keap1 redox signaling promises to be a viable therapy for attenuating oxidative stress-mediated damage in skeletal muscle associated with physical inactivity.
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