Early Accentuated Muscle Hypertrophy Is Strongly Associated With Myonuclear Accretion

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2020 Jul 1;319(1):R50-R58. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00061.2020. Epub 2020 May 20.


The current study explored whether the marked hypertrophic response noted with a short-term unilateral concurrent exercise paradigm was associated with more prominent changes in myonuclei accretion, ribosome biogenesis, and capillarization compared with resistance exercise alone (RE). Ten men (age 25 ± 4 yr) performed aerobic and resistance exercise (AE + RE) for one leg while the other leg did RE. Muscle biopsies were obtained before and after 5 wk of training and subjected to fiber-type specific immunohistochemical analysis, and quantification of total RNA content and mRNA/rRNA transcript abundance. Type II fiber cross-sectional area (CSA) increased with both AE + RE (22%) and RE (16%), while type I fiber CSA increased mainly with AE + RE (16%). The change score tended to differ between legs for type I CSA (P = 0.099), and the increase in smallest fiber diameter was greater in AE + RE than RE (P = 0.029). The number of nuclei per fiber increased after AE + RE in both fiber types, and this increase was greater (P = 0.027) than after RE. A strong correlation was observed between changes in number of nuclei per fiber and fiber CSA in both fiber types, for both AE + RE and RE (r > 0.8, P < 0.004). RNA content increased after AE + RE (24%, P = 0.019), but the change-scores did not differ across legs. The capillary variables generally increased in both fiber types, with no difference across legs. In conclusion, the accentuated hypertrophic response to AE + RE was associated with more pronounced myonuclear accretion, which was strongly correlated with the degree of fiber hypertrophy. This suggests that myonuclear accretion could play a role in facilitating muscle hypertrophy also during very short training periods.

Keywords: angiogenesis; endurance exercise; human muscle; resistance exercise; ribosome biogenesis.