Introduction: Exercise is an important countermeasure to limb muscle dysfunction in COPD. The two major training modalities in COPD rehabilitation, endurance training (ET) and resistance training (RT), may both be efficient in improving muscle strength, exercise capacity, and health-related quality of life, but the effects on quadriceps muscle characteristics have not been thoroughly described.
Methods: Thirty COPD patients (forced expiratory volume in 1 second: 56% of predicted, standard deviation [SD] 14) were randomized to 8 weeks of ET or RT. Vastus lateralis muscle biopsies were obtained before and after the training intervention to assess muscle morphology and metabolic and angiogenic factors. Symptom burden, exercise capacity (6-minute walking and cycle ergometer tests), and vascular function were also assessed.
Results: Both training modalities improved symptom burden and exercise capacity with no difference between the two groups. The mean (SD) proportion of glycolytic type IIa muscle fibers was reduced after ET (from 48% [SD 11] to 42% [SD 10], P<0.05), whereas there was no significant change in muscle fiber distribution with RT. There was no effect of either training modality on muscle capillarization, angiogenic factors, or vascular function. After ET the muscle protein content of phosphofructokinase was reduced (P<0.05) and the citrate synthase content tended increase (P=0.08) but no change was observed after RT.
Conclusion: Although both ET and RT improve symptoms and exercise capacity, ET induces a more oxidative quadriceps muscle phenotype, counteracting muscle dysfunction in COPD.
Keywords: muscle fibers; phosphofructokinase-1; randomized controlled trial; rehabilitation; vasodilation.