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Researchers discover regulator linking exercise to bigger, stronger muscles
Date:12/6/2012

creases activity of a protein called IGF1 (insulin-like growth factor 1), which facilitates muscle growth. At the same time, PGC-1alpha4 also represses another protein, myostatin, which normally restricts muscle growth. In effect, PGC-1 alpha-4 presses the accelerator and removes the brake to enable exercised muscles to gain mass and strength.

"All of our muscles have both positive and negative influences on growth," Spiegelman explained. "This protein (PGC-1 alpha-4) turns down myostatin and turns up IGF1."

Several experiments demonstrated the muscle-enhancing effects of the novel protein. The investigators used virus carriers to insert PGC-1 alpha-4 into the leg muscle of mice and found that within several days their muscle fibers were 60 percent bigger compared to untreated mice. They also engineered mice to have more PGC-1 alpha-4 in their muscles than normal mice who were not exercising. Tests showed that the treated mice were 20 percent stronger and more resistant to fatigue than the controls; in addition, they were leaner than their normal counterparts.

Mice engineered to have extra PGC-1 alpha-4 showed "dramatic resistance" to cancer-related muscle wasting, the scientists found. The mice lost only 10 percent mass in a leg muscle compared to a 29 percent loss in mice with cancer that did not have additional PGC-1 alpha-4, according to the report. The altered mice were also stronger and more active than the normal mice.


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Contact: Robbin Ray
robbin_ray@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-4090
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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