Myostatin is a key mediator between energy metabolism and endurance capacity of skeletal muscle

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2014 Aug 15;307(4):R444-54. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00377.2013. Epub 2014 Jun 25.


Myostatin (Mstn) participates in the regulation of skeletal muscle size and has emerged as a regulator of muscle metabolism. Here, we hypothesized that lack of myostatin profoundly depresses oxidative phosphorylation-dependent muscle function. Toward this end, we explored Mstn(-/-) mice as a model for the constitutive absence of myostatin and AAV-mediated overexpression of myostatin propeptide as a model of myostatin blockade in adult wild-type mice. We show that muscles from Mstn(-/-) mice, although larger and stronger, fatigue extremely rapidly. Myostatin deficiency shifts muscle from aerobic toward anaerobic energy metabolism, as evidenced by decreased mitochondrial respiration, reduced expression of PPAR transcriptional regulators, increased enolase activity, and exercise-induced lactic acidosis. As a consequence, constitutively reduced myostatin signaling diminishes exercise capacity, while the hypermuscular state of Mstn(-/-) mice increases oxygen consumption and the energy cost of running. We wondered whether these results are the mere consequence of the congenital fiber-type switch toward a glycolytic phenotype of constitutive Mstn(-/-) mice. Hence, we overexpressed myostatin propeptide in adult mice, which did not affect fiber-type distribution, while nonetheless causing increased muscle fatigability, diminished exercise capacity, and decreased Pparb/d and Pgc1a expression. In conclusion, our results suggest that myostatin endows skeletal muscle with high oxidative capacity and low fatigability, thus regulating the delicate balance between muscle mass, muscle force, energy metabolism, and endurance capacity.

Keywords: exercise capacity; mitochondria; muscle fatigue; myostatin; oxidative phosphorylation; peroxisome proliferatior-activated receptor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Genotype
  • Glycolysis
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / metabolism
  • Muscle Contraction*
  • Muscle Fatigue
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Myostatin / deficiency
  • Myostatin / genetics
  • Myostatin / metabolism*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors / genetics
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase / metabolism
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Running
  • Signal Transduction
  • Time Factors
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Mstn protein, mouse
  • Myostatin
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors
  • Ppargc1a protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factors
  • Lactic Acid
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase