Effects of iron deficiency and training on mitochondrial enzymes in skeletal muscle

W. T. Willis, G. A. Brooks, S. A. Henderson, P. R. Dallman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


We measured mitochondrial enzyme activities in skeletal muscle under conditions of iron deficiency and endurance training to assess the effects of these interventions on the contents and proportions of non-iron-containing and iron-dependent enzymes and proteins. Male Sprague-Dawley rats, 21 days of age, received a diet containing either 6 (iron deficient) or 50 mg iron/kg diet (iron sufficient). At 35 days of age animals were subdivided into sedentary and endurance training groups (running at 0.7 mph, 0% grade, 45 min/day, 6 days/wk). By 70 days of age, iron deficiency had decreased gastrocnemius muscle cytochrome c by 62% in sedentary animals. In contrast, the activities of tricarboxylic acid cycle enzymes were increased, remained unchanged or were slightly decreased, indicating that iron deficiency markedly altered mitochondrial composition. Endurance training increased cytochrome c (35%), tricarboxylic acid cycle enzymes (~15%), and manganese superoxide dismutase (33%) in iron-deficient rats, whereas the same exercise regimen had no effect on the skeletal muscle of iron-sufficient animals. The interactive effect of dietary iron deficiency and mild exercise on mitochondrial enzymes suggests that adaptation to a training stimulus is, to some extent, geared to the relationship between the energy demand of exercise and the capacity for O2 transport and utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2442-2446
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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