Exercise training and return to a well-balanced diet activate the neuregulin 1/ErbB pathway in skeletal muscle of obese rats

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Some studies suggest that the signalling pathway of neuregulin 1 (NRG1), a protein involved in the regulation of skeletal muscle metabolism, could be altered by nutritional and exercise interventions. We hypothesized that diet-induced obesity could lead to alterations of the NRG1 signalling pathway and that chronic exercise could improve NRG1 signalling in rat skeletal muscle. To test this hypothesis, male Wistar rats received a high fat/high sucrose (HF/HS) diet for 16 weeks. At the end of this period, NRG1 and ErbB expression/activity in skeletal muscle was assessed. The obese rats then continued the HF/HS diet or were switched to a well-balanced diet. Moreover, in both groups, half of the animals also performed low intensity treadmill exercise training. After another 8 weeks, NRG1 and ErbB expression/activity in skeletal muscle were tested again. The 16 week HF/HS diet induced obesity, but did not significantly affect the NRG1/ErbB signalling pathway in rat skeletal muscle. Conversely, after the switch to a well-balanced diet, NRG1 cleavage ratio and ErbB4 amount were increased. Chronic exercise training also promoted NRG1 cleavage, resulting in increased ErbB4 phosphorylation. This result was associated with increased protein expression and phosphorylation ratio of the metalloprotease ADAM17, which is involved in NRG1 shedding. Similarly, in vitro stretch-induced activation of ADAM17 in rat myoblasts induced NRG1 cleavage and ErbB4 activation. These results show that low intensity endurance training and well-balanced diet activate the NRG1-ErbB4 pathway, possibly via the metalloprotease ADAM17, in skeletal muscle of diet-induced obese rats.

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