The effect of resistance exercise upon age-related systemic and local skeletal muscle inflammation

Exp Gerontol. 2019 Jul 1;121:19-32. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2019.03.007. Epub 2019 Mar 21.


Aim: Chronic inflammation increases with age and is correlated positively to visceral fat mass, but inversely to muscle mass. We investigated the hypothesis that resistance training would increase muscle mass and strength together with a concomitant drop in local and systemic inflammation level independent of any changes in visceral fat tissue in elderly.

Methods: 25 subjects (mean 67, range 62-70 years) were randomized to 1 year of heavy resistance training (HRT) or control (CON), and tested at 0, 4 and 12 months for physical performance, body composition (DXA), vastus lateralis muscle area (MRI) local and systemic inflammation (blood and muscle). In addition, systemic and local muscle immunological responses to acute exercise was determined before and after the training period.

Results: Increases in muscle mass (≈2%, p < 0.05), vastus lateralis area (≈9%. P < 0.05), isometric (≈15%) and dynamic (≈15%) muscle strength (p < 0.05) were found in the HRT group after 12 months training. HRT did not alter overall or visceral fat mass (p > 0.05). Blood C-Reactive Protein declined over time in both groups (p < 0.05), whereas muscle inflammation markers were unchanged to 1 year of HRT. Acute exercise increased plasma IL-6 and FGF-19 (p < 0.05), decreased FGF-21 (p < 0.05) and CCL-20 (p < 0.05), and increased GDNF in muscle (p < 0.001) similarly before and after 1 year in both groups.

Conclusion: Long term resistance training increased muscle strength and improved muscle mass, but did not alter visceral fat mass and did not show any specific effect upon resting or exercise induced markers of inflammation.

Keywords: Chronic inflammation; Elderly; Physical training; Skeletal muscle; Strength training; Visceral fat.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Biopsy, Needle / methods
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Capillaries / physiology
  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Female
  • Hand Strength / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Myositis / etiology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Resistance Training / adverse effects*


  • Biomarkers
  • Muscle Proteins