Electrical Pulse Stimulation of Cultured Human Skeletal Muscle Cells as an In Vitro Model of Exercise


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PLoS ONE;7 (3)


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Background and Aims Physical exercise leads to substantial adaptive responses in skeletal muscles and plays a central role in a healthy life style. Since exercise induces major systemic responses, underlying cellular mechanisms are difficult to study in vivo. It was therefore desirable to develop an in vitro model that would resemble training in cultured human myotubes. Methods Electrical pulse stimulation (EPS) was applied to adherent human myotubes. Cellular contents of ATP, phosphocreatine (PCr) and lactate were determined. Glucose and oleic acid metabolism were studied using radio-labeled substrates, and gene expression was analyzed using real-time RT-PCR. Mitochondrial content and function were measured by live imaging and determination of citrate synthase activity, respectively. Protein expression was assessed by electrophoresis and immunoblotting. Results High-frequency, acute EPS increased deoxyglucose uptake and lactate production, while cell contents of both ATP and PCr decreased. Chronic, low-frequency EPS increased oxidative capacity of cultured myotubes by increasing glucose metabolism (uptake and oxidation) and complete fatty acid oxidation. mRNA expression level of pyruvate dehydrogenase complex 4 (PDK4) was significantly increased in EPS-treated cells, while mRNA expressions of interleukin 6 (IL-6), cytochrome C and carnitin palmitoyl transferase b (CPT1b) also tended to increase. Intensity of MitoTracker®Red FM was doubled after 48 h of chronic, low-frequency EPS. Protein expression of a slow fiber type marker (MHCI) was increased in EPS-treated cells. Conclusions Our results imply that in vitro EPS (acute, high-frequent as well as chronic, low-frequent) of human myotubes may be used to study effects of exercise.



© 2012 Nikolić et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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  • http://hdl.handle.net/10642/1497