COX Inhibitor Influence on Skeletal Muscle Fiber Size and Metabolic Adaptations to Resistance Exercise in Older Adults

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Common cyclooxygenase (COX)-inhibiting drugs enhance resistance exercise induced muscle mass and strength gains in older individuals. The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether the underlying mechanism regulating this effect was specific to Type I or Type II muscle fibers, which have different contractile and metabolic profiles. Muscle biopsies (vastus lateralis) were obtained before and after 12 weeks of knee-extensor resistance exercise (3 days/week) from healthy older men who consumed either a placebo (n = 8; 64±2 years) or COX inhibitor (acetaminophen, 4 gram/day; n = 7; 64±1 years) in double-blind fashion. Muscle samples were examined for Type I and II fiber cross-sectional area, capillarization, and metabolic enzyme activities (glycogen phosphorylase, citrate synthase, β-hydroxyacyl-CoA-dehydrogenase). Type I fiber size did not change with training in the placebo group (304±590 μm2) but increased 28% in the COX inhibitor group (1,388±760 μm2, p < .1). Type II fiber size increased 26% in the placebo group (1,432±499 μm2, p < .05) and 37% in the COX inhibitor group (1,825±400 μm2, p < .05). Muscle capillarization and enzyme activity were generally maintained in the placebo group. However, capillary to fiber ratio increased 24% (p < .1) and citrate synthase activity increased 18% (p < .05) in the COX inhibitor group. COX inhibitor consumption during resistance exercise in older individuals enhances myocellular growth, and this effect is more pronounced in Type I muscle fibers.

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