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1.  The Effect of Adding CO2 to Hypoxic Inspired Gas on Cerebral Blood Flow Velocity and Breathing during Incremental Exercise 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81130.
Hypoxia increases the ventilatory response to exercise, which leads to hyperventilation-induced hypocapnia and subsequent reduction in cerebral blood flow (CBF). We studied the effects of adding CO2 to a hypoxic inspired gas on CBF during heavy exercise in an altitude naïve population. We hypothesized that augmented inspired CO2 and hypoxia would exert synergistic effects on increasing CBF during exercise, which would improve exercise capacity compared to hypocapnic hypoxia. We also examined the responsiveness of CO2 and O2 chemoreception on the regulation ventilation (E) during incremental exercise. We measured middle cerebral artery velocity (MCAv; index of CBF), E, end-tidal PCO2, respiratory compensation threshold (RC) and ventilatory response to exercise (E slope) in ten healthy men during incremental cycling to exhaustion in normoxia and hypoxia (FIO2 = 0.10) with and without augmenting the fraction of inspired CO2 (FICO2). During exercise in normoxia, augmenting FICO2 elevated MCAv throughout exercise and lowered both RC onset andE slope below RC (P<0.05). In hypoxia, MCAv and E slope below RC during exercise were elevated, while the onset of RC occurred at lower exercise intensity (P<0.05). Augmenting FICO2 in hypoxia increased E at RC (P<0.05) but no difference was observed in RC onset, MCAv, or E slope below RC (P>0.05). The E slope above RC was unchanged with either hypoxia or augmented FICO2 (P>0.05). We found augmenting FICO2 increased CBF during sub-maximal exercise in normoxia, but not in hypoxia, indicating that the ‘normal’ cerebrovascular response to hypercapnia is blunted during exercise in hypoxia, possibly due to an exhaustion of cerebral vasodilatory reserve. This finding may explain the lack of improvement of exercise capacity in hypoxia with augmented CO2. Our data further indicate that, during exercise below RC, chemoreception is responsive, while above RC the ventilatory response to CO2 is blunted.
PMCID: PMC3836745  PMID: 24278389
2.  Muscle Hypertrophy in Prepubescent Tennis Players: A Segmentation MRI Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33622.
To asses if tennis at prepubertal age elicits the hypertrophy of dominant arm muscles.
The volume of the muscles of both arms was determined using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 7 male prepubertal tennis players (TP) and 7 non-active control subjects (CG) (mean age 11.0±0.8 years, Tanner 1–2).
TP had 13% greater total muscle volume in the dominant than in the contralateral arm. The magnitude of inter-arm asymmetry was greater in TP than in CG (13 vs 3%, P<0.001). The dominant arm of TP was 16% greater than the dominant arm of CG (P<0.01), whilst non-dominant arms had similar total muscle volumes in both groups (P = 0.25), after accounting for height as covariate. In TP, dominant deltoid (11%), forearm supinator (55%) and forearm flexors (21%) and extensors (25%) were hypertrophied compared to the contralateral arm (P<0.05). In CG, the dominant supinator muscle was bigger than its contralateral homonimous (63%, P<0.05).
Tennis at prepubertal age is associated with marked hypertrophy of the dominant arm, leading to a marked level of asymmetry (+13%), much greater than observed in non-active controls (+3%). Therefore, tennis particpation at prepubertal age is associated with increased muscle volumes in dominant compared to the non-dominant arm, likely due to selectively hypertrophy of the loaded muscles.
PMCID: PMC3302769  PMID: 22428074
3.  Chlorogenic Acid Stimulates Glucose Transport in Skeletal Muscle via AMPK Activation: A Contributor to the Beneficial Effects of Coffee on Diabetes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32718.
Chlorogenic acid (CGA) has been shown to delay intestinal glucose absorption and inhibit gluconeogenesis. Our aim was to investigate the role of CGA in the regulation of glucose transport in skeletal muscle isolated from db/db mice and L6 skeletal muscle cells. Oral glucose tolerance test was performed on db/db mice treated with CGA and soleus muscle was isolated for 2-deoxyglucose transport study. 2DG transport was also examined in L6 myotubes with or without inhibitors such as wortmannin or compound c. AMPK was knocked down with AMPKα1/2 siRNA to study its effect on CGA-stimulated glucose transport. GLUT 4 translocation, phosphorylation of AMPK and Akt, AMPK activity, and association of IRS-1 and PI3K were investigated in the presence of CGA. In db/db mice, a significant decrease in fasting blood sugar was observed 10 minutes after the intraperitoneal administration of 250 mg/kg CGA and the effect persisted for another 30 minutes after the glucose challenge. Besides, CGA stimulated and enhanced both basal and insulin-mediated 2DG transports in soleus muscle. In L6 myotubes, CGA caused a dose- and time-dependent increase in glucose transport. Compound c and AMPKα1/2 siRNA abrogated the CGA-stimulated glucose transport. Consistent with these results, CGA was found to phosphorylate AMPK and ACC, consistent with the result of increased AMPK activities. CGA did not appear to enhance association of IRS-1 with p85. However, we observed activation of Akt by CGA. These parallel activations in turn increased translocation of GLUT 4 to plasma membrane. At 2 mmol/l, CGA did not cause any significant changes in viability or proliferation of L6 myotubes. Our data demonstrated for the first time that CGA stimulates glucose transport in skeletal muscle via the activation of AMPK. It appears that CGA may contribute to the beneficial effects of coffee on Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
PMCID: PMC3296733  PMID: 22412912
4.  Effects of Male Hypogonadism on Regional Adipose Tissue Fatty Acid Storage and Lipogenic Proteins 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31473.
Testosterone has long been known to affect body fat distribution, although the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. We investigated the effects of chronic hypogonadism in men on adipose tissue fatty acid (FA) storage and FA storage factors. Twelve men with chronic hypogonadism and 13 control men matched for age and body composition: 1) underwent measures of body composition with dual energy x-ray absorptiometry and an abdominal CT scan; 2) consumed an experimental meal containing [3H]triolein to determine the fate of meal FA (biopsy-measured adipose storage vs. oxidation); 3) received infusions of [U-13C]palmitate and [1-14C]palmitate to measure rates of direct free (F)FA storage (adipose biopsies). Adipose tissue lipoprotein lipase, acyl-CoA synthetase (ACS), and diacylglycerol acetyl-transferase (DGAT) activities, as well as, CD36 content were measured to understand the mechanism by which alterations in fat storage occur in response to testosterone deficiency. Results of the study showed that hypogonadal men stored a greater proportion of both dietary FA and FFA in lower body subcutaneous fat than did eugonadal men (both p<0.05). Femoral adipose tissue ACS activity was significantly greater in hypogonadal than eugonadal men, whereas CD36 and DGAT were not different between the two groups. The relationships between these proteins and FA storage varied somewhat between the two groups. We conclude that chronic effects of testosterone deficiency has effects on leg adipose tissue ACS activity which may relate to greater lower body FA storage. These results provide further insight into the role of androgens in body fat distribution and adipose tissue metabolism in humans.
PMCID: PMC3282778  PMID: 22363653
5.  Estimation of Individual Muscle Force Using Elastography 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e29261.
Estimation of an individual muscle force still remains one of the main challenges in biomechanics. In this way, the present study aimed: (1) to determine whether an elastography technique called Supersonic Shear Imaging (SSI) could be used to estimate muscle force, (2) to compare this estimation to that one provided by surface electromyography (EMG), and (3) to determine the effect of the pennation of muscle fibers on the accuracy of the estimation.
Methods and Results
Eleven subjects participated in two experimental sessions; one was devoted to the shear elastic modulus measurements and the other was devoted to the EMG recordings. Each session consisted in: (1) two smooth linear torque ramps from 0 to 60% and from 0 to 30% of maximal voluntary contraction, for the first dorsal interosseous and the abductor digiti minimi, respectively (referred to as “ramp contraction”); (2) two contractions done with the instruction to freely change the torque (referred to as “random changes contraction”). Multi-channel surface EMG recordings were obtained from a linear array of eight electrodes and the shear elastic modulus was measured using SSI. For ramp contractions, significant linear relationships were reported between EMG activity level and torque (R2 = 0.949±0.036), and between shear elastic modulus and torque (R2 = 0.982±0.013). SSI provided significant lower RMSdeviation between measured torque and estimated torque than EMG activity level for both types of contraction (1.4±0.7 vs. 2.8±1.4% of maximal voluntary contraction for “ramp contractions”, p<0.01; 4.5±2.3 vs. 7.9±5.9% of MVC for “random changes contractions”, p<0.05). No significant difference was reported between muscles.
The shear elastic modulus measured using SSI can provide a more accurate estimation of individual muscle force than surface EMG. In addition, pennation of muscle fibers does not influence the accuracy of the estimation.
PMCID: PMC3244452  PMID: 22229057
6.  Soccer Attenuates the Asymmetry of Rectus Abdominis Muscle Observed in Non-Athletes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19022.
To determine the volume and degree of asymmetry of the rectus abdominis muscle (RA) in professional soccer players.
The volume of the RA was determined using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 15 professional male soccer players and 6 non-active male control subjects.
Soccer players had 26% greater RA volume than controls (P<0.05), due to hypertrophy of both the dominant (28% greater volume, P<0.05) and non-dominant (25% greater volume, P<0.01) sides, after adjusting for age, length of the RA muscle and body mass index (BMI) as covariates. Total volume of the dominant side was similar to the contralateral in soccer players (P = 0.42) and in controls (P = 0.75) (Dominant/non-dominant = 0.99, in both groups). Segmental analysis showed a progressive increase in the degree of side-to-side asymmetry from the first lumbar disc to the pubic symphysis in soccer players (r = 0.80, P<0.05) and in controls (r = 0.75, P<0.05). The slope of the relationship was lower in soccer players, although this trend was not statistically significant (P = 0.14).
Professional soccer is associated with marked hypertrophy of the rectus abdominis muscle, which achieves a volume that is 26% greater than in non-active controls. Soccer induces the hypertrophy of the non-dominant side in proximal regions and the dominant side in regions closer to pubic symphysis, which attenuates the pattern of asymmetry of rectus abdominis observed in non-active population. It remains to be determined whether the hypertrophy of rectus abdominis in soccer players modifies the risk of injury.
PMCID: PMC3081838  PMID: 21541351
7.  GLUT4 and Glycogen Synthase Are Key Players in Bed Rest–Induced Insulin Resistance 
Diabetes  2012;61(5):1090-1099.
To elucidate the molecular mechanisms behind physical inactivity–induced insulin resistance in skeletal muscle, 12 young, healthy male subjects completed 7 days of bed rest with vastus lateralis muscle biopsies obtained before and after. In six of the subjects, muscle biopsies were taken from both legs before and after a 3-h hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp performed 3 h after a 45-min, one-legged exercise. Blood samples were obtained from one femoral artery and both femoral veins before and during the clamp. Glucose infusion rate and leg glucose extraction during the clamp were lower after than before bed rest. This bed rest–induced insulin resistance occurred together with reduced muscle GLUT4, hexokinase II, protein kinase B/Akt1, and Akt2 protein level, and a tendency for reduced 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase activity. The ability of insulin to phosphorylate Akt and activate glycogen synthase (GS) was reduced with normal GS site 3 but abnormal GS site 2+2a phosphorylation after bed rest. Exercise enhanced insulin-stimulated leg glucose extraction both before and after bed rest, which was accompanied by higher GS activity in the prior-exercised leg than the rested leg. The present findings demonstrate that physical inactivity–induced insulin resistance in muscle is associated with lower content/activity of key proteins in glucose transport/phosphorylation and storage.
PMCID: PMC3331744  PMID: 22403297
8.  Large Asymmetric Hypertrophy of Rectus Abdominis Muscle in Professional Tennis Players 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15858.
To determine the volume and degree of asymmetry of the musculus rectus abdominis (RA) in professional tennis players.
The volume of the RA was determined using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 8 professional male tennis players and 6 non-active male control subjects.
Tennis players had 58% greater RA volume than controls (P = 0.01), due to hypertrophy of both the dominant (34% greater volume, P = 0.02) and non-dominant (82% greater volume, P = 0.01) sides, after accounting for age, the length of the RA muscle and body mass index (BMI) as covariates. In tennis players, there was a marked asymmetry in the development of the RA, which volume was 35% greater in the non-dominant compared to the dominant side (P<0.001). In contrast, no side-to-side difference in RA volume was observed in the controls (P = 0.75). The degree of side-to-side asymmetry increased linearly from the first lumbar disc to the pubic symphysis (r = 0.97, P<0.001).
Professional tennis is associated with marked hypertrophy of the musculus rectus abdominis, which achieves a volume that is 58% greater than in non-active controls. Rectus abdominis hypertrophy is more marked in the non-dominant than in the dominant side, particularly in the more distal regions. Our study supports the concept that humans can differentially recruit both rectus abdominis but also the upper and lower regions of each muscle. It remains to be determined if this disequilibrium raises the risk of injury.
PMCID: PMC3013134  PMID: 21209832
9.  Anaerobic Energy Expenditure and Mechanical Efficiency during Exhaustive Leg Press Exercise 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13486.
Information about anaerobic energy production and mechanical efficiency that occurs over time during short-lasting maximal exercise is scarce and controversial. Bilateral leg press is an interesting muscle contraction model to estimate anaerobic energy production and mechanical efficiency during maximal exercise because it largely differs from the models used until now. This study examined the changes in muscle metabolite concentration and power output production during the first and the second half of a set of 10 repetitions to failure (10RM) of bilateral leg press exercise. On two separate days, muscle biopsies were obtained from vastus lateralis prior and immediately after a set of 5 or a set of 10 repetitions. During the second set of 5 repetitions, mean power production decreased by 19% and the average ATP utilisation accounted for by phosphagen decreased from 54% to 19%, whereas ATP utilisation from anaerobic glycolysis increased from 46 to 81%. Changes in contraction time and power output were correlated to the changes in muscle Phosphocreatine (PCr; r = −0.76; P<0.01) and lactate (r = −0.91; P<0.01), respectively, and were accompanied by parallel decreases (P<0.01-0.05) in muscle energy charge (0.6%), muscle ATP/ADP (8%) and ATP/AMP (19%) ratios, as well as by increases in ADP content (7%). The estimated average rate of ATP utilisation from anaerobic sources during the final 5 repetitions fell to 83% whereas total anaerobic ATP production increased by 9% due to a 30% longer average duration of exercise (18.4±4.0 vs 14.2±2.1 s). These data indicate that during a set of 10RM of bilateral leg press exercise there is a decrease in power output which is associated with a decrease in the contribution of PCr and/or an increase in muscle lactate. The higher energy cost per repetition during the second 5 repetitions is suggestive of decreased mechanical efficiency.
PMCID: PMC2957441  PMID: 20976067
10.  Unloaded Shortening Velocity of Voluntarily and Electrically Activated Human Dorsiflexor Muscles In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e13043.
We have previously shown that unloaded shortening velocity (V0) of human plantar flexors can be determined in vivo, by applying the “slack test” to submaximal voluntary contractions (J Physiol 567:1047–1056, 2005). In the present study, to investigate the effect of motor unit recruitment pattern on V0 of human muscle, we modified the slack test and applied this method to both voluntary and electrically elicited contractions of dorsiflexors. A series of quick releases (i.e., rapid ankle joint rotation driven by an electrical dynamometer) was applied to voluntarily activated dorsiflexor muscles at three different contraction intensities (15, 50, and 85% of maximal voluntary contraction; MVC). The quick-release trials were also performed on electrically activated dorsiflexor muscles, in which three stimulus conditions were used: submaximal (equal to 15%MVC) 50-Hz stimulation, supramaximal 50-Hz stimulation, and supramaximal 20-Hz stimulation. Modification of the slack test in vivo resulted in good reproducibility of V0, with an intraclass correlation coefficient of 0.87 (95% confidence interval: 0.68–0.95). Regression analysis showed that V0 of voluntarily activated dorsiflexor muscles significantly increased with increasing contraction intensity (R2 = 0.52, P<0.001). By contrast, V0 of electrically activated dorsiflexor muscles remained unchanged (R2<0.001, P = 0.98) among three different stimulus conditions showing a large variation of tetanic torque. These results suggest that the recruitment pattern of motor units, which is quite different between voluntary and electrically elicited contractions, plays an important role in determining shortening velocity of human skeletal muscle in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2946376  PMID: 20885951
11.  The ZEB1 Transcription Factor Is a Novel Repressor of Adiposity in Female Mice 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8460.
Four genome-wide association studies mapped an “obesity” gene to human chromosome 10p11–12. As the zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1) transcription factor is encoded by the TCF8 gene located in that region, and as it influences the differentiation of various mesodermal lineages, we hypothesized that ZEB1 might also modulate adiposity. The goal of these studies was to test that hypothesis in mice.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To ascertain whether fat accumulation affects ZEB1 expression, female C57BL/6 mice were fed a regular chow diet (RCD) ad libitum or a 25% calorie-restricted diet from 2.5 to 18.3 months of age. ZEB1 mRNA levels in parametrial fat were six to ten times higher in the obese mice. To determine directly whether ZEB1 affects adiposity, wild type (WT) mice and mice heterozygous for TCF8 (TCF8+/−) were fed an RCD or a high-fat diet (HFD) (60% calories from fat). By two months of age on an HFD and three months on an RCD, TCF8+/− mice were heavier than WT controls, which was attributed by Echo MRI to increased fat mass (at three months on an HFD: 0.517±0.081 total fat/lean mass versus 0.313±0.036; at three months on an RCD: 0.175±0.013 versus 0.124±0.012). No differences were observed in food uptake or physical activity, suggesting that the genotypes differ in some aspect of their metabolic activity. ZEB1 expression also increases during adipogenesis in cell culture.
These results show for the first time that the ZEB1 transcription factor regulates the accumulation of adipose tissue. Furthermore, they corroborate the genome-wide association studies that mapped an “obesity” gene at chromosome 10p11–12.
PMCID: PMC2794530  PMID: 20041147
12.  The Ergogenic Effect of Recombinant Human Erythropoietin on V̇O2max Depends on the Severity of Arterial Hypoxemia 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(8):e2996.
Treatment with recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEpo) induces a rise in blood oxygen-carrying capacity (CaO2) that unequivocally enhances maximal oxygen uptake (V̇O2max) during exercise in normoxia, but not when exercise is carried out in severe acute hypoxia. This implies that there should be a threshold altitude at which V̇O2max is less dependent on CaO2. To ascertain which are the mechanisms explaining the interactions between hypoxia, CaO2 and V̇O2max we measured systemic and leg O2 transport and utilization during incremental exercise to exhaustion in normoxia and with different degrees of acute hypoxia in eight rhEpo-treated subjects. Following prolonged rhEpo treatment, the gain in systemic V̇O2max observed in normoxia (6–7%) persisted during mild hypoxia (8% at inspired O2 fraction (FIO2) of 0.173) and was even larger during moderate hypoxia (14–17% at FIO2 = 0.153–0.134). When hypoxia was further augmented to FIO2 = 0.115, there was no rhEpo-induced enhancement of systemic V̇O2max or peak leg V̇O2. The mechanism highlighted by our data is that besides its strong influence on CaO2, rhEpo was found to enhance leg V̇O2max in normoxia through a preferential redistribution of cardiac output toward the exercising legs, whereas this advantageous effect disappeared during severe hypoxia, leaving augmented CaO2 alone insufficient for improving peak leg O2 delivery and V̇O2. Finally, that V̇O2max was largely dependent on CaO2 during moderate hypoxia but became abruptly CaO2-independent by slightly increasing the severity of hypoxia could be an indirect evidence of the appearance of central fatigue.
PMCID: PMC2500186  PMID: 18714372
13.  Influence of GLP-1 on Myocardial Glucose Metabolism in Healthy Men during Normo- or Hypoglycemia 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e83758.
Background and Aims
Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) may provide beneficial cardiovascular effects, possibly due to enhanced myocardial energetic efficiency by increasing myocardial glucose uptake (MGU). We assessed the effects of GLP-1 on MGU in healthy subjects during normo- and hypoglycemia.
Materials and Methods
We included eighteen healthy men in two randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled cross-over studies. MGU was assessed with GLP-1 or saline infusion during pituitary-pancreatic normo- (plasma glucose (PG): 4.5 mM, n = 10) and hypoglycemic clamps (PG: 3.0 mM, n = 8) by positron emission tomography with 18fluoro-deoxy-glucose (18F-FDG) as tracer.
In the normoglycemia study mean (± SD) age was 25±3 years, and BMI was 22.6±0.6 kg/m2 and in the hypoglycemia study the mean age was 23±2 years with a mean body mass index of 23±2 kg/m2. GLP-1 did not change MGU during normoglycemia (mean (+/− SD) 0.15+/−0.04 and 0.16+/−0.03 µmol/g/min, P = 0.46) or during hypoglycemia (0.16+/−0.03 and 0.13+/−0.04 µmol/g/min, P = 0.14). However, the effect of GLP-1 on MGU was negatively correlated to baseline MGU both during normo- and hypoglycemia, (P = 0.006, r2 = 0.64 and P = 0.018, r2 = 0.64, respectively) and changes in MGU correlated positively with the level of insulin resistance (HOMA 2IR) during hypoglycemia, P = 0.04, r2 = 0.54. GLP-1 mediated an increase in circulating glucagon levels at PG levels below 3.5 mM and increased glucose infusion rates during the hypoglycemia study. No differences in other circulating hormones or metabolites were found.
While GLP-1 does not affect overall MGU, GLP-1 induces changes in MGU dependent on baseline MGU such that GLP-1 increases MGU in subjects with low baseline MGU and decreases MGU in subjects with high baseline MGU. GLP-1 preserves MGU during hypoglycemia in insulin resistant subjects. registration numbers: NCT00418288: (hypoglycemia) and NCT00256256: (normoglycemia).
PMCID: PMC3882300  PMID: 24400077
14.  Mechanisms of the Incretin Effect in Subjects with Normal Glucose Tolerance and Patients with Type 2 Diabetes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73154.
The incretin effect on insulin secretion was investigated in 8 subjects with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and 8 with normal glucose tolerance (NGT), using 25, 75, and 125 g oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTT) and isoglycemic intravenous glucose infusions (IIGI). The ß-cell response was evaluated using a model embedding a dose-response (slope = glucose sensitivity), an early response (rate sensitivity), and potentiation (time-related secretion increase). The incretin effect, as OGTT/IIGI ratio, was calculated for each parameter. In NGT, the incretin effect on total secretion increased with dose (1.3±0.1, 1.7±0.2, 2.2±0.2 fold of IIGI, P<0.0001), mediated by a dose-dependent increase of the incretin effect on glucose sensitivity (1.9±0.4, 2.4±0.4, 3.1±0.4, P = 0.005), and a dose-independent enhancement of the incretin effect on rate sensitivity (894 [1145], 454 [516], 783 [1259] pmol m−2 L mmol−1 above IIGI; median [interquartile range], P<0.0001). The incretin effect on potentiation also increased (0.97±0.06, 1.45±0.20, 1.24±0.16, P<0.0001). In T2D, the incretin effect on total secretion (1.0±0.1, 1.1±0.1, 1.3±0.1, P = 0.004) and glucose sensitivity (1.2±0.2, 1.3±0.2, 2.0±0.2, P = 0.005) were impaired vs NGT; however, the incretin effect on rate sensitivity increased already at 25 g (269 [169], 284 [301], 193 [465] pmol m−2 L mmol−1 above IIGI; negligible IIGI rate sensitivity in T2D prevented the calculation of the fold increment). OGTT did not stimulate potentiation above IIGI (0.94±0.04, 0.89±0.06, 1.06±0.09; P<0.01 vs NGT). In the whole group, the incretin effect was inversely associated with total secretion during IIGI, although systematically lower in T2D. In conclusion, 1) In NGT, glucose sensitivity and potentiation mediate the dose-dependent incretin effect increase; 2) In T2D, the incretin effect is blunted vs NGT, but rate sensitivity is enhanced at all loads; 3) Relatively lower incretin effect in NGT is associated with higher secretion during IIGI, suggesting that the reduced incretin effect does not result from ß-cell dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3760909  PMID: 24019903
15.  Association between Body Water Status and Acute Mountain Sickness 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e73185.
The present study determined the association between body fluid variation and the development of acute mountain sickness (AMS) in adults.
Forty-three healthy participants (26 males and 17 females, age: 26±6 yr, height: 174±9 cm, weight: 68±12 kg) were passively exposed at a FiO2 of 12.6% (simulated altitude hypoxia of 4500 m, PiO2 = 83.9 mmHg) for 12-h. AMS severity was assessed using the Lake Louise Score (LLS). Food and drink intakes were consumed ad libitum and measured; all urine was collected. Before and after the 12-h exposure, body weight and plasma osmolality were measured and whole-body bioimpedance analysis was performed.
The overall AMS incidence was 43% (38% males, 50% females). Participants who developed AMS showed lower fluid losses (3.0±0.9 vs. 4.5±2.0 ml/kg/h, p = 0.002), a higher fluid retention (1.9±1.5 vs. 0.6±0.8 ml/kg/h, p = 0.022), greater plasma osmolality decreases (−7±7 vs. −2±5 mOsm/kg, p = 0.028) and a larger plasma volume expansion (11±10 vs. 1±15%, p = 0.041) compared to participants not developing AMS. Net water balance (fluid intake – fluid loss) and the amount of fluid loss were strong predictors whether getting sick or not (Nagelkerkes r2 = 0.532). The LLS score was related to net water balance (r = 0.358, p = 0.018), changes in plasma osmolality (r = −0.325, p = 0.033) and sodium concentration (r = −0.305, p = 0.047). Changes in the impedance vector length were related to weight changes (r = −0.550, p<0.001), fluid intake (r = −0.533, p<0.001) and net water balance (r = −0.590, p<0.001).
Participants developing AMS within 12 hours showed a positive net water balance due to low fluid loss. Thus measures to avoid excess fluid retention are likely to reduce AMS symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3754926  PMID: 24013267
16.  Inhibition of Myostatin Signaling through Notch Activation following Acute Resistance Exercise 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68743.
Myostatin is a TGFβ family member and negative regulator of muscle size. Due to the complexity of the molecular pathway between myostatin mRNA/protein and changes in transcription, it has been difficult to understand whether myostatin plays a role in resistance exercise-induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy. To circumvent this problem, we determined the expression of a unique myostatin target gene, Mighty, following resistance exercise. Mighty mRNA increased by 6 h (82.9±24.21%) and remained high out to 48 h (56.5±19.67%) after resistance exercise. Further examination of the soleus, plantaris and tibialis anterior muscles showed that the change in Mighty mRNA at 6 h correlated with the increase in muscle size associated with this protocol (R2 = 0.9996). The increase in Mighty mRNA occurred both independent of Smad2 phosphorylation and in spite of an increase in myostatin mRNA (341.8±147.14% at 3 h). The myostatin inhibitor SKI remained unchanged. However, activated Notch, another potential inhibitor of TGFβ signaling, increased immediately following resistance exercise (83±11.2%) and stayed elevated out to 6 h (78±16.6%). Electroportion of the Notch intracellular domain into the tibialis anterior resulted in an increase in Mighty mRNA (63±13.4%) that was equivalent to the canonical Notch target HES-1 (94.4±7.32%). These data suggest that acute resistance exercise decreases myostatin signaling through the activation of the TGFβ inhibitor Notch resulting in a decrease in myostatin transcriptional activity that correlates well with muscle hypertrophy.
PMCID: PMC3699505  PMID: 23844238
17.  Long-Term Stabilization Effects of Leptin on Brain Functions in a Leptin-Deficient Patient 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65893.
Congenital leptin deficiency, caused by a very rare mutation in the gene encoding leptin, leads to severe obesity, hyperphagia and impaired satiety. The only systemic treatment is the substitution with metreleptin leading to weight reduction based on hormonal changes. Several studies have also shown alterations in brain function after metreleptin therapy. In a previous study, we were able to show changes in homeostatic (hypothalamus) and reward-related brain areas (striatum, orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), substantia nigra/ventral tegmental area, amygdala) 3 days and 6 months after therapy start in a leptin-deficient adolescent girl. To further access the time course of functional brain activation changes, we followed the patient for 2 years after initiation of the therapy.
Design, Patient
Functional magnetic resonance imaging during visual stimulation with food (high- and low-caloric) and non-food pictures was performed 1 and 2 years after therapy start in the previously described patient.
The comparison of ‘food vs. non-food’ pictures showed a stabilization of the long-term effects in the amygdala and in the OFC. Therefore, no significant differences were observed between 6 months compared to 12 and 24 months in these regions. Additionally, a reduction of the frontopolar cortex activity over the whole time span was observed. For the comparison of high- and low-caloric pictures, long-term effects in the hypothalamus showed an assimilating pattern for the response to the food categories whereas only acute effects after 3 months were observed in hedonic brain regions.
This follow-up study shows that the long lasting benefit of metreleptin therapy is also associated with activation changes in homeostatic, hedonic and frontal control regions in congenital leptin deficiency.
PMCID: PMC3683048  PMID: 23799059
18.  Progressive Adaptation in Physical Activity and Neuromuscular Performance during 520d Confinement 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e60090.
To understand whether prolonged confinement results in reductions in physical activity and adaptation in the musculoskeletal system, six subjects were measured during 520 d isolation in the Mars500 study. We tested the hypothesis that physical activity reduces in prolonged confinement and that this would be associated with decrements of neuromuscular performance. Physical activity, as measured by average acceleration of the body’s center of mass (“activity temperature”) using the actibelt® device, decreased progressively over the course of isolation (p<0.00001). Concurrently, countermovement jump power and single-leg hop force decreased during isolation (p<0.001) whilst grip force did not change (p≥0.14). Similar to other models of inactivity, greater decrements of neuromuscular performance occurred in the lower-limb than in the upper-limb. Subject motivational state increased non-significantly (p = 0.20) during isolation, suggesting reductions in lower-limb neuromuscular performance were unrelated to motivation. Overall, we conclude that prolonged confinement is a form of physical inactivity and is associated with adaptation in the neuromuscular system.
PMCID: PMC3610758  PMID: 23555896
19.  White Blood Cell Counts as Risk Markers of Developing Metabolic Syndrome and Its Components in the Predimed Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58354.
The Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) is a cluster of metabolic abnormalities that includes hyperglucemia, hypertension, dyslipidemia and central obesity, conferring an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The white blood cell (WBC) count has been proposed as a marker for predicting cardiovascular risk. However, few prospective studies have evaluated the relationship between WBC subtypes and risk of MetS.
Participants were recruited from seven PREDIMED study centers. Both a baseline cross-sectional (n = 4,377) and a prospective assessment (n = 1,637) were performed. Participants with MetS at baseline were excluded from the longitudinal analysis. The median follow-up was 3.9 years. Anthropometric measurements, blood pressure, fasting glucose, lipid profile and WBC counts were assessed at baseline and yearly during the follow-up. Participants were categorized by baseline WBC and its subtype count quartiles. Adjusted logistic regression models were fitted to assess the risk of MetS and its components.
Of the 4,377 participants, 62.6% had MetS at baseline. Compared to the participants in the lowest baseline sex-adjusted quartile of WBC counts, those in the upper quartile showed an increased risk of having MetS (OR, 2.47; 95%CI, 2.03–2.99; P-trend<0.001). This association was also observed for all WBC subtypes, except for basophils. Compared to participants in the lowest quartile, those in the top quartile of leukocyte, neutrophil and lymphocyte count had an increased risk of MetS incidence. Leukocyte and neutrophil count were found to be strongly associated with the MetS components hypertriglyceridemia and low HDL-cholesterol. Likewise, lymphocyte counts were found to be associated with the incidence of the MetS components low HDL-cholesterol and high fasting glucose. An increase in the total WBC during the follow-up was also associated with an increased risk of MetS.
Total WBC counts, and some subtypes, were positively associated with MetS as well as hypertriglyceridemia, low HDL-cholesterol and high fasting glucose, all components of MetS.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3602299  PMID: 23526980
20.  AQP4-Dependent Water Transport Plays a Functional Role in Exercise-Induced Skeletal Muscle Adaptations 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58712.
In this study we assess the functional role of Aquaporin-4 (AQP4) in the skeletal muscle by analyzing whether physical activity modulates AQP4 expression and whether the absence of AQP4 has an effect on osmotic behavior, muscle contractile properties, and physical activity. To this purpose, rats and mice were trained on the treadmill for 10 (D10) and 30 (D30) days and tested with exercise to exhaustion, and muscles were used for immunoblotting, RT-PCR, and fiber-type distribution analysis. Taking advantage of the AQP4 KO murine model, functional analysis of AQP4 was performed on dissected muscle fibers and sarcolemma vesicles. Moreover, WT and AQP4 KO mice were subjected to both voluntary and forced activity. Rat fast-twitch muscles showed a twofold increase in AQP4 protein in D10 and D30 rats compared to sedentary rats. Such increase positively correlated with the animal performance, since highest level of AQP4 protein was found in high runner rats. Interestingly, no shift in muscle fiber composition nor an increase in AQP4-positive fibers was found. Furthermore, no changes in AQP4 mRNA after exercise were detected, suggesting that post-translational events are likely to be responsible for AQP4 modulation. Experiments performed on AQP4 KO mice revealed a strong impairment in osmotic responses as well as in forced and voluntary activities compared to WT mice, even though force development amplitude and contractile properties were unvaried. Our findings definitively demonstrate the physiological role of AQP4 in supporting muscle contractile activity and metabolic changes that occur in fast-twitch skeletal muscle during prolonged exercise.
PMCID: PMC3592820  PMID: 23520529
21.  Obesity-Induced Insulin Resistance in Human Skeletal Muscle Is Characterised by Defective Activation of p42/p44 MAP Kinase 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56928.
Insulin resistance (IR), an impaired cellular, tissue and whole body response to insulin, is a major pathophysiological defect of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Although IR is closely associated with obesity, the identity of the molecular defect(s) underlying obesity-induced IR in skeletal muscle remains controversial; reduced post-receptor signalling of the insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS1) adaptor protein and downstream effectors such as protein kinase B (PKB) have previously been implicated. We examined expression and/or activation of a number of components of the insulin-signalling cascade in skeletal muscle of 22 healthy young men (with body mass index (BMI) range, 20–37 kg/m2). Whole body insulin sensitivity (M value) and body composition was determined by the hyperinsulinaemic (40 mU. min−1.m−2.), euglycaemic clamp and by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) respectively. Skeletal muscle (vastus lateralis) biopsies were taken before and after one hour of hyperinsulinaemia and the muscle insulin signalling proteins examined by western blot and immunoprecipitation assay. There was a strong inverse relationship between M-value and BMI. The most striking abnormality was significantly reduced insulin-induced activation of p42/44 MAP kinase, measured by specific assay, in the volunteers with poor insulin sensitivity. However, there was no relationship between individuals' BMI or M-value and protein expression/phosphorylation of IRS1, PKB, or p42/44 MAP kinase protein, under basal or hyperinsulinaemic conditions. In the few individuals with poor insulin sensitivity but preserved p42/44 MAP kinase activation, other signalling defects were evident. These findings implicate defective p42/44 MAP kinase signalling as a potential contributor to obesity-related IR in a non-diabetic population, although clearly multiple signalling defects underlie obesity associated IR.
PMCID: PMC3585240  PMID: 23468892
22.  Cross-Sectional Assessment of Nut Consumption and Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome and Other Cardiometabolic Risk Factors: The PREDIMED Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57367.
Prospective studies have consistently suggested that nut consumption is inversely related to fatal and non-fatal coronary heart disease. Limited data are available on the epidemiological associations between nut intake and cardiometabolic risk factors.
To evaluate associations between frequency of nut consumption and prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors [obesity, metabolic syndrome (MetS), type-2 diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia] in a Mediterranean population at high cardiovascular risk.
Materials and Methods
Cross-sectional study of 7,210 men and women (mean age, 67 y) recruited into the PREDIMED study. MetS was defined by the harmonized ATPIII and IDF criteria. Diabetes and hypertension were assessed by clinical diagnosis and dyslipidemia (high triglycerides, low HDL-cholesterol, and hypercholesterolemia) by lipid analyses. Nut consumption was assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire and categorized as <1, 1–3, and >3 servings/wk. Control of confounding was done with multivariate logistic regression.
Compared to participants consuming <1 serving/wk of nuts, those consuming >3 servings/wk had lower adjusted odds ratios (OR) for obesity (0.61, 95% confidence interval 0.54 to 0.68; P-trend <0.001), MetS (0.74, 0.65 to 0.85; P-trend<0.001), and diabetes (0.87, 0.78 to 0.99; P-trend = 0.043). Higher nut consumption was also associated with lower risk of the abdominal obesity MetS criterion (OR 0.68, 0.60 to 0.79; P-trend<0.001). No significant associations were observed for the MetS components high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, or elevated fasting glucose.
Nut consumption was inversely associated with the prevalence of general obesity, central obesity, MetS, and diabetes in subjects at high cardiovascular risk.
PMCID: PMC3583833  PMID: 23460844
23.  Aging Affects the Transcriptional Regulation of Human Skeletal Muscle Disuse Atrophy 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51238.
Important insights concerning the molecular basis of skeletal muscle disuse-atrophy and aging related muscle loss have been obtained in cell culture and animal models, but these regulatory signaling pathways have not previously been studied in aging human muscle. In the present study, muscle atrophy was induced by immobilization in healthy old and young individuals to study the time-course and transcriptional factors underlying human skeletal muscle atrophy. The results reveal that irrespectively of age, mRNA expression levels of MuRF-1 and Atrogin-1 increased in the very initial phase (2–4 days) of human disuse-muscle atrophy along with a marked reduction in PGC-1α and PGC-1β (1–4 days) and a ∼10% decrease in myofiber size (4 days). Further, an age-specific decrease in Akt and S6 phosphorylation was observed in young muscle within the first days (1–4 days) of immobilization. In contrast, Akt phosphorylation was unchanged in old muscle after 2 days and increased after 4 days of immobilization. Further, an age-specific down-regulation of MuRF-1 and Atrogin-1 expression levels was observed following 2 weeks of immobilization, along with a slowing atrophy response in aged skeletal muscle. Neither the immediate loss of muscle mass, nor the subsequent age-differentiated signaling responses could be explained by changes in inflammatory mediators, apoptosis markers or autophagy indicators. Collectively, these findings indicate that the time-course and regulation of human skeletal muscle atrophy is age dependent, leading to an attenuated loss in aging skeletal muscle when exposed to longer periods of immobility-induced disuse.
PMCID: PMC3526599  PMID: 23284670
24.  MRI Evidence: Acute Mountain Sickness Is Not Associated with Cerebral Edema Formation during Simulated High Altitude 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50334.
Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a common condition among non-acclimatized individuals ascending to high altitude. However, the underlying mechanisms causing the symptoms of AMS are still unknown. It has been suggested that AMS is a mild form of high-altitude cerebral edema both sharing a common pathophysiological mechanism. We hypothesized that brain swelling and consequently AMS development is more pronounced when subjects exercise in hypoxia compared to resting conditions. Twenty males were studied before and after an eight hour passive (PHE) and active (plus exercise) hypoxic exposure (AHE) (FiO2 = 11.0%, PiO2∼80 mmHg). Cerebral edema formation was investigated with a 1.5 Tesla magnetic resonance scanner and analyzed by voxel based morphometry (VBM), AMS was assessed using the Lake Louise Score. During PHE and AHE AMS was diagnosed in 50% and 70% of participants, respectively (p>0.05). While PHE slightly increased gray and white matter volume and the apparent diffusion coefficient, these changes were clearly more pronounced during AHE but were unrelated to AMS. In conclusion, our findings indicate that rest and especially exercise in normobaric hypoxia are associated with accumulation of water in the extracellular space, however independent of AMS development. Thus, it is suggested that AMS and HACE do not share a common pathophysiological mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3511451  PMID: 23226263
25.  Metabolic Adaptations May Counteract Ventilatory Adaptations of Intermittent Hypoxic Exposure during Submaximal Exercise at Altitudes up to 4000 m 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49953.
Intermittent hypoxic exposure (IHE) has been shown to induce aspects of altitude acclimatization which affect ventilatory, cardiovascular and metabolic responses during exercise in normoxia and hypoxia. However, knowledge on altitude-dependent effects and possible interactions remains scarce. Therefore, we determined the effects of IHE on cardiorespiratory and metabolic responses at different simulated altitudes in the same healthy subjects. Eight healthy male volunteers participated in the study and were tested before and 1 to 2 days after IHE (7×1 hour at 4500 m). The participants cycled at 2 submaximal workloads (corresponding to 40% and 60% of peak oxygen uptake at low altitude) at simulated altitudes of 2000 m, 3000 m, and 4000 m in a randomized order. Gas analysis was performed and arterial oxygen saturation, blood lactate concentrations, and blood gases were determined during exercise. Additionally baroreflex sensitivity, hypoxic and hypercapnic ventilatory response were determined before and after IHE. Hypoxic ventilatory response was increased after IHE (p<0.05). There were no altitude-dependent changes by IHE in any of the determined parameters. However, blood lactate concentrations and carbon dioxide output were reduced; minute ventilation and arterial oxygen saturation were unchanged, and ventilatory equivalent for carbon dioxide was increased after IHE irrespective of altitude. Changes in hypoxic ventilatory response were associated with changes in blood lactate (r = −0.72, p<0.05). Changes in blood lactate correlated with changes in carbon dioxide output (r = 0.61, p<0.01) and minute ventilation (r = 0.54, p<0.01). Based on the present results it seems that the reductions in blood lactate and carbon dioxide output have counteracted the increased hypoxic ventilatory response. As a result minute ventilation and arterial oxygen saturation did not increase during submaximal exercise at simulated altitudes between 2000 m and 4000 m.
PMCID: PMC3498202  PMID: 23166803

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