Cardiac protein content and synthesis in vivo after voluntary running or head-down suspension

E. J. Henriksen, K. A. Munoz, A. T. Aannestad, M. E. Tischler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The adaptive responses of myocardial protein metabolism to chronic increases in work load were evaluated in juvenile female Sprague-Dawley rats. Rats were studied under four conditions: normal weight bearing (N), voluntary wheel running (WR) for ≤4 wk, head-down-tilt suspension for 7 days (HS), or wheel running (2 or 3 wk) followed by 7 days of suspension (WR-HS). WR activity plateaued after 2 wk at 16 km/day and was maintained through week 4. WR did not affect normal whole body growth. Protein metabolism was studied by measuring heart protein content and in vivo fractional rate of protein synthesis with the [3H]phenylalanine 'flooding dose' method. Two weeks of WR increased (P < 0.05) absolute heart protein content (22%) and protein synthesis (21%) relative to age-matched N group values. These differences in protein content and synthesis were maintained for ≥4 wk. Rats failed to gain significant body weight during suspension. Heart protein content increased (P < 0.05) by 12% to 26% as did protein synthesis (14% to 22%) in HS compared with N group. In WR-HS group, cardiac protein content and protein synthesis were maintained at significantly elevated levels. These findings indicate that 1) high-volume WR by young rats provides a convenient noninvasive method for producing rapid and substantial cardiac hypertrophy, which results, at least in part, from enhanced cardiac protein synthesis; and 2) head-down suspension of sedentary juvenile rats leads to increased cardiac protein synthesis, which helps to increase cardiac protein content despite a lack of whole body growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2814-2819
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1994


  • exercise training
  • heart muscle
  • hypertrophy
  • simulated weightlessness
  • tritiated phenylalanine flooding dose method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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