Greater basal skeletal muscle AMPKα phosphorylation in men than in women: Associations with anaerobic performance

Eur J Sport Sci. 2016;16(4):455-64. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2015.1063701. Epub 2015 Aug 25.


Objectives: This study was designed to investigate the association of gender, fibre type composition, and anaerobic performance with the basal skeletal muscle signalling cascades regulating muscle phenotype.

Design: Muscle biopsies were obtained from 25 men and 10 women all young and healthy.

Methods: Protein phosphorylation of Thr(172)AMPKα, Ser(221)ACCβ, Thr(286)CaMKII as well as total protein abundance of PGC-1α, SIRT1, and CnA were measured by Western blot and anaerobic performance by the Wingate test.

Results: Percent type I myosin heavy chain (MHC I) was lower in men (37.1 ± 10.4 vs. 58.5 ± 12.5, P < .01). Total, free testosterone and free androgen index were higher in men (11.5, 36.6 and 40.6 fold, respectively, P < .01). AMPKα phosphorylation was 2.2-fold higher in men compared to women (P < .01). Total Ser(221)ACCβ and Thr(286)CaMKII fractional phosphorylation tended to be higher in men (P = .1). PGC1-α and SIRT1 total protein expression was similar in men and women, whereas CnA tended to be higher in men (P = .1). Basal AMPKα phosphorylation was linearly related to the percentage of MHC I in men (r = 0.56; P < .01), but not in women. No association was observed between anaerobic performance and basal phosphorylations in men and women, analysed separately.

Conclusion: In summary, skeletal muscle basal AMPKα phosphorylation is higher in men compared to women, with no apparent effect on anaerobic performance.

Keywords: AMPK; anaerobic performance; gender; muscle phenotype; muscle signalling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Calcineurin / metabolism
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2 / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Myosin Heavy Chains / metabolism
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation*
  • Sex Factors*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sirtuin 1 / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • PPARGC1A protein, human
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases
  • PRKAA1 protein, human
  • Calcineurin
  • SIRT1 protein, human
  • Sirtuin 1
  • Myosin Heavy Chains