In skeletal muscle, an increased expression of insulin like growth factor-I isoforms IGF-IEa and mechano-growth factor (MGF) combined with downregulation of myostatin is thought to be essential for training-induced hypertrophy. However, the specific effects of different contraction types on regulation of these factors in muscle are still unclear, and in tendon the functions of myostatin, IGF-IEa, and MGF in relation to training are unknown. Female Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to 4 days of concentric, eccentric, or isometric training (n = 7-9 per group) of the medial gastrocnemius, by stimulation of the sciatic nerve during general anesthesia. mRNA levels for myostatin, IGF-IEa, and MGF in muscle and Achilles' tendon were measured by real-time RT-PCR. Muscle myostatin mRNA decreased in response to all types of training (2- to 8-fold) (P < 0.05), but the effect of eccentric training was greater than concentric and isometric training (P < 0.05). In tendon, myostatin mRNA was detected, but no changes were seen after exercise. IGF-IEa and MGF increased in muscle (up to 15-fold) and tendon (up to 4-fold) in response to training (P < 0.01). In tendon no difference was seen between training types, but in muscle the effect of eccentric training was greater than concentric training for both IGF-IEa and MGF (P < 0.05), and for IGF-IEa isometric training had greater effect than concentric (P < 0.05). The results indicate a possible role for IGF-IEa and MGF in adaptation of tendon to training, and the combined changes in myostatin and IGF-IEa/MGF expression could explain the important effect of eccentric actions for muscle hypertrophy.
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