Voluntary physical activity protects from susceptibility to skeletal muscle contraction-induced injury but worsens heart function in mdx mice

Am J Pathol. 2013 May;182(5):1509-18. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2013.01.020. Epub 2013 Mar 4.


It is well known that inactivity/activity influences skeletal muscle physiological characteristics. However, the effects of inactivity/activity on muscle weakness and increased susceptibility to muscle contraction-induced injury have not been extensively studied in mdx mice, a murine model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy with dystrophin deficiency. In the present study, we demonstrate that inactivity (ie, leg immobilization) worsened the muscle weakness and the susceptibility to contraction-induced injury in mdx mice. Inactivity also mimicked these two dystrophic features in wild-type mice. In contrast, we demonstrate that these parameters can be improved by activity (ie, voluntary wheel running) in mdx mice. Biochemical analyses indicate that the changes induced by inactivity/activity were not related to fiber-type transition but were associated with altered expression of different genes involved in fiber growth (GDF8), structure (Actg1), and calcium homeostasis (Stim1 and Jph1). However, activity reduced left ventricular function (ie, ejection and shortening fractions) in mdx, but not C57, mice. Altogether, our study suggests that muscle weakness and susceptibility to contraction-induced injury in dystrophic muscle could be attributable, at least in part, to inactivity. It also suggests that activity exerts a beneficial effect on dystrophic skeletal muscle but not on the heart.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Body Weight
  • Disease Susceptibility / pathology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Heart Function Tests*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred mdx
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle Development / genetics
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Animal / genetics
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Animal / pathology
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Animal / physiopathology
  • Organ Size
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal*
  • Ventricular Function / genetics


  • Biomarkers