Mitochondrial biogenesis and angiogenesis in skeletal muscle of the elderly

Ninna Iversen, Peter Krustrup, Hans N Rasmussen, Ulla Feldt-Rasmussen, Bengt Saltin, Henriette Pilegaard

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


The aim of this study was to test the hypotheses that 1) skeletal muscles of elderly subjects can adapt to a single endurance exercise bout and 2) endurance trained elderly subjects have higher expression/activity of oxidative and angiogenic proteins in skeletal muscle than untrained elderly people. To investigate this, lifelong endurance trained elderly (ET; n = 8) aged 71.3 ± 3.4 years and untrained elderly subjects (UT; n = 7) aged 71.3 ± 4 years, performed a cycling exercise bout at 75% VO(2max) with vastus lateralis muscle biopsies obtained before (Pre), immediately after exercise (0 h) and at 2 h of recovery. Capillarization was detected histochemically and oxidative enzyme activities were determined on isolated mitochondria. GLUT4, HKII, Cyt c and VEGF protein expression was measured on muscle lysates from Pre-biopsies, phosphorylation of AMPK and P38 on lysates from Pre and 0 h biopsies, while PGC-1α, VEGF, HKII and TFAM mRNA content was determined at all time points. ET had ~40% higher PDH, CS, SDH, α-KG-DH and ATP synthase activities and 27% higher capillarization than UT, reflecting increased skeletal muscle oxidative capacity with lifelong endurance exercise training. In addition, acute exercise increased in UT PGC-1α mRNA 11-fold and VEGF mRNA 4-fold at 2 h of recovery, and AMPK phosphorylation ~5-fold immediately after exercise, relative to Pre, indicating an ability to adapt metabolically and angiogenically to endurance exercise. However, in ET PGC-1α mRNA only increased 5 fold and AMPK phosphorylation ~2-fold, while VEGF mRNA remained unchanged after the acute exercise bout. P38 increased similarly in ET and UT after exercise. In conclusion, the present findings suggest that lifelong endurance exercise training ensures an improved oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle, and that skeletal muscle of elderly subjects maintains the ability to respond to acute endurance exercise.

TidsskriftExperimental Gerontology
Udgave nummer8
Sider (fra-til)670-8
StatusUdgivet - 2011
Udgivet eksterntJa



Iversen, N., Krustrup, P., Rasmussen, H. N., Feldt-Rasmussen, U., Saltin, B., & Pilegaard, H. (2011). Mitochondrial biogenesis and angiogenesis in skeletal muscle of the elderly. Experimental Gerontology, 46(8), 670-8.