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1.  Late-life enalapril administration induces nitric oxide-dependent and independent metabolic adaptations in the rat skeletal muscle 
Age  2012;35(4):1061-1075.
Recently, we showed that administration of the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor enalapril to aged rats attenuated muscle strength decline and mitigated apoptosis in the gastrocnemius muscle. The aim of the present study was to investigate possible mechanisms underlying the muscle-protective effects of enalapril. We also sought to discern the effects of enalapril mediated by nitric oxide (NO) from those independent of this signaling molecule. Eighty-seven male Fischer 344 × Brown Norway rats were randomly assigned to receive enalapril (n = 23), the NO synthase (NOS) inhibitor NG-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester (l-NAME; n = 22), enalapril + l-NAME (n = 19), or placebo (n = 23) from 24 to 27 months of age. Experiments were performed on the tibialis anterior muscle. Total NOS activity and the expression of neuronal, endothelial, and inducible NOS isoforms (nNOS, eNOS, and iNOS) were determined to investigate the effects of enalapril on NO signaling. Transcript levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1α) were assessed to explore actions of enalapril on inflammation and mitochondrial biogenesis, respectively. Protein expression of energy-sensing and insulin signaling mediators, including protein kinase B (Akt-1), phosphorylated Akt-1 (pAkt-1), mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), AMP-activated protein kinase subunit alpha (AMPKα), phosphorylated AMPKα (pAMPKα), and the glucose transporter GLUT-4, was also determined. Finally, the generation of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) was quantified in subsarcolemmal (SSM) and intermyofibrillar (IFM) mitochondria. Enalapril increased total NOS activity, which was prevented by l-NAME co-administration. eNOS protein content was enhanced by enalapril, but not by enalapril + l-NAME. Gene expression of iNOS was down-regulated by enalapril either alone or in combination with l-NAME. In contrast, protein levels of nNOS were unaltered by treatments. The mRNA abundance of TNF-α was reduced by enalapril relative to placebo, with no differences among any other group. PCG-1α gene expression was unaffected by enalapril and lowered by enalapril + l-NAME. No differences in protein expression of Akt-1, pAkt-1, AMPKα, pAMPKα, or GLUT-4 were detected among groups. However, mTOR protein levels were increased by enalapril compared with placebo. Finally, all treatment groups displayed reduced SSM, but not IFM H2O2 production relative to placebo. Our data indicate that enalapril induces a number of metabolic adaptations in aged skeletal muscle. These effects result from the concerted modulation of NO and angiotensin II signaling, rather than from a dichotomous action of enalapril on the two pathways. Muscle protection by enalapril administered late in life appears to be primarily mediated by mitigation of oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory signaling.
PMCID: PMC3705103  PMID: 22639176
Aging; Nitric oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms; Mitochondria; mTOR; Glucose tolerance; l-NAME; Inflammation; ACE inhibitors
3.  Differential effects of enalapril and losartan on body composition and indices of muscle quality in aged male Fischer 344 × Brown Norway rats 
Age  2010;33(2):167-183.
The primary purpose of the present set of studies was to provide a direct comparison of the effects of the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor enalapril and the angiotensin receptor blocker losartan on body composition, physical performance, and muscle quality when administered late in life to aged rats. Overall, enalapril treatment consistently attenuated age-related increases in adiposity relative to both placebo and losartan. The maximal effect was achieved after 3 months of treatment (between 24 and 27 months of age), at a dose of 40 mg/kg and was observed in the absence of any changes in physical activity, body temperature, or food intake. In addition, the reduction in fat mass was not due to changes in pathology given that enalapril attenuated age-related increases in tumor development relative to placebo- and losartan-treated animals. Both enalapril and losartan attenuated age-related decreases in grip strength, suggesting that changes in body composition appear dissociated from improvements in physical function and may reflect a differential impact of enalapril and losartan on muscle quality. To link changes in adiposity to improvements in skeletal muscle quality, we performed gene array analyses to generate hypotheses regarding cell signaling pathways altered with enalapril treatment. Based on these results, our primary follow-up pathway was mitochondria-mediated apoptosis of myocytes. Relative to losartan- and placebo-treated rats, only enalapril decreased DNA fragmentation and caspase-dependent apoptotic signaling. These data suggest that attenuation of the severity of skeletal muscle apoptosis promoted by enalapril may represent a distinct mechanism through which this compound improves muscle strength/quality.
PMCID: PMC3127467  PMID: 21153712
Age-related adiposity; Body composition; Sarcopenia; Renin–angiotensin system; Physical function; Muscle quality
4.  The Act of Voluntary Wheel Running Reverses Dietary Hyperphagia and Increases Leptin Signaling in Ventral Tegmental Area of Aged Obese Rats 
Gerontology  2010;57(4):335-342.
To test the hypothesis that exercise increases central leptin signaling, and thus reduces dietary weight gain in an aged obese model, we assessed the effects of voluntary wheel running (WR) in 23-month-old F344×BN rats fed a 60% high-fat (HF) diet for 3 months. After 2 months on the HF diet, half of the rats were provided access to running wheels for 2 weeks while the other half remained sedentary. Following the removal of the wheels, physical performance was evaluated, and 4 weeks later leptin signaling was assessed in hypothalamus and VTA after an acute bout of WR. Introduction of a HF diet led to prolonged hyperphagia (63.9 ± 7.8 kcal/day on chow diet vs. 88.1 ± 8.2 kcal/day on high-fat diet (when food intake stabilized), p < 0.001). As little as 9 (ranging to 135) wheel revolutions per day significantly reduced caloric consumption of HF food (46.8 ± 11.2 kcal/day) to a level below that on chow diet (63.9 ± 7.8 kcal/day, p < 0.001). After 2 weeks of WR, body weight was significantly reduced (7.9 ± 2.1% compared with prerunning weight, p < 0.001), and physical performance (latency to fall from an incline plane) was significantly improved (p = 0.04). WR significantly increased both basal (p = 0.04) and leptin-stimulated (p = 0.001) STAT3 phosphorylation in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), but not in the hypothalamus. Thus, in aged dietary obese rats, the act but not the extent of voluntary WR is highly effective in reversing HF consumption, decreasing body weight, and improving physical performance. It appears to trigger a response that substitutes for the reward of highly palatable food that may be mediated by increased leptin signaling in the VTA.
PMCID: PMC3130980  PMID: 20881371
Wheel running; Leptin; Aged obese rats
5.  Effects of chronic fentanyl administration on physical performance of aged rats 
Experimental gerontology  2010;46(1):65-72.
There is growing concern over the increasing use of opioids to treat chronic pain in the elderly primarily because of the potential increased sensitivity to the adverse side effects. Here, we use a preclinical model (male Brown Norway X F344 rats aged 12, 18, 24, and 30 months) to describe the outcome of chronic fentanyl administration (1.0 mg/kg/day) on various physiological and behavioral measures. Continuous fentanyl administration resulted in an initial decrease in food consumption, followed by the development of tolerance to this effect over a 4-week period and a subsequent increase in food consumption during withdrawal. This change in food consumption was associated with decreases in body weight (predominantly due to a loss of fat mass) that was maintained through early withdrawal. After one month of withdrawal, only the 12-month old animals had fully regained body weight. Fentanyl administration resulted in a decrease in grip strength and an increase in locomotor activity that did not differ across age groups. There was no effect of fentanyl administration on rotarod performance. These results demonstrate that while there is a delayed recovery of body mass with age, the observed changes in behavioral responses are uniform across ages.
PMCID: PMC2998590  PMID: 20951790
Locomotor activity; Rotarod; Grip strength; Body composition; Osmotic minipump
6.  Strong resetting of the mammalian clock by constant light followed by constant darkness 
The mammalian molecular circadian clock in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) regulates locomotor activity rhythms as well as clocks in peripheral tissues (Reppert and Weaver, 2002; Ko and Takahashi, 2006). Constant light (LL) can induce behavioral and physiological arrhythmicity, by desynchronizing clock cells in the SCN (Ohta et al., 2005). We examined how the disordered clock cells resynchronize by probing the molecular clock and measuring behavior in mice transferred from LL to constant darkness (DD). The circadian locomotor activity rhythms disrupted in LL become robustly rhythmic again from the beginning of DD, and the starting phase of the rhythm in DD is specific, not random, suggesting that the desynchronized clock cells are quickly reset in an unconventional manner by the L:D transition. By measuring mPERIOD protein rhythms, we showed that the SCN and peripheral tissue clocks quickly become rhythmic again in phase with the behavioral rhythms. We propose that this resetting mechanism may be different from conventional phase shifting, which involves light-induction of Period genes (Albrecht et al., 1997; Shearman et al., 1997; Shigeyoshi et al., 1997). Using our functional insights, we could shift the circadian phase of locomotor activity rhythms by 12 hours using a 15-hour LL treatment: essentially producing phase reversal by a single light pulse, a feat that has not been reported previously in wild-type mice and that has potential clinical utility.
PMCID: PMC2626189  PMID: 19005049
circadian rhythms; LL; entrainment; type 0 resetting; PERIOD; SCN

Results 1-6 (6)