Functional overload attenuates plantaris atrophy in tumor-bearing rats
Otis, Jeffrey S.
Lees, Simon J.
Williams, Jay H.
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Background Late stage cancer malignancies may result in severe skeletal muscle wasting, fatigue and reduced quality of life. Resistance training may attenuate these derangements in cancer patients, but how this hypertrophic response relates to normal muscle adaptations in healthy subjects is unknown. Here, we determined the effect of resistance training on muscle mass and myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform composition in plantaris muscles from tumor-bearing (TB) rats. Methods Age- and gender-matched Buffalo rats were used for all studies (n = 6/group). Suspensions of Morris Hepatoma MH7777 cells or normal saline were injected subcutaneously into the dorsum. Six weeks after cell implantation, muscles from TB rats were harvested, weighed and processed for ATP-independent proteasome activity assays. Once tumor-induced atrophy had been established, subgroups of TB rats underwent unilateral, functional overload (FO). Healthy, sham-operated rats served as controls. After six weeks, the extent of plantaris hypertrophy was calculated and MHC isoform compositions were determined by gel electrophoresis. Results Six weeks of tumor growth reduced body mass and the relative masses of gastrocnemius, plantaris, tibialis anterior, extensor digitorum longus, and diaphragm muscles (p ≤ 0.05). Percent reductions in body mass had a strong, negative correlation to final tumor size (r = -0.78). ATP-independent proteasome activity was increased in plantaris muscles from TB rats (p ≤ 0.05). In healthy rats, functional overload (FO) increased plantaris mass ~44% compared to the contralateral control muscle, and increased the relative percentage of MHC type I and decreased the relative percentage of MHC type IIb compared to the sham-operated controls (p ≤ 0.05). Importantly, plantaris mass was increased ~24% in TB-FO rats and adaptations to MHC isoform composition were consistent with normal, resistance-trained muscles. Conclusion Despite significant skeletal muscle derangements due to cancer, muscle retains the capacity to respond normally to hypertrophic stimuli. Specifically, when challenged with functional overload, plantaris muscles from TB rats displayed greater relative mass, increased percentages of MHC type I and decreased percentages of MHC type IIb. Therefore, resistance training paradigms should provide relative morphological and functional benefits to cancer patients suffering from muscle wasting.