Effects of loaded voluntary wheel exercise on performance and muscle hypertrophy in young and old male C57Bl/6J mice

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This study compared the capacity of young and old male C57Bl/6J mice to exercise with increasing resistance over 10 weeks, and its impact on muscle mass. Young mice (aged 15–25 weeks) were subjected to low (LR) and high (HR) resistance exercise, whereas only LR was used for old mice (107–117 weeks). Weekly patterns of voluntary wheel activity, food consumption and body weights were measured. Running patterns changed over time and with age, with two peaks of activity detected for young, but only one for old mice: speed and distance run was also less for old mice. The mass for six limb muscles was measured at the end of the experiment. The most pronounced increase in mass in response to exercise was for the soleus in young and old mice, and also quadriceps and gastrocnemius in young mice. Soleus and quadriceps muscles were analyzed histologically for myofiber number and size. A striking feature was the many small myofibers in response to exercise in young (but not old) soleus, whereas these were not present after exercise in young or old quadriceps. Overall, there was a striking difference in response to exercise between muscles and this was influenced by age.

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