The effects of a combination of the antioxidant astaxanthin (AX) and electrical stimulation (ES) on muscle mass and mitochondrial oxidative capacity were investigated in the soleus muscle of hindlimb unloaded rats. Five groups of male Sprague-Dawley rats were used; control, 1-week hindlimb unloading (HU), HU + AX, HU + ES, and HU + AX + ES. Respective rats in the AX groups received 50-mg/kg AX twice daily during HU. Calf muscles of rats in the ES groups were electrically stimulated for 240 s/day during HU. One-week HU decreased muscle mass along with decreased FoxO3a phosphorylation and increased ubiquitinated proteins expressions, decreased oxidative enzymatic activity accompanied with decline in PGC-1α protein expression, and increased reactive oxygen species production. However, the combination treatment could synergistically attenuate/suppress all HU-related changes, suggesting protective effects on muscle atrophy and decreased muscle oxidative capacity due to chronic neuromuscular inactivity.
Keywords: Astaxanthin; Atrophy; Electrical stimulation; Oxidative stress; Skeletal muscle.