Muscle atrophy decreases physical function and overall health. Increased glucocorticoid production and/or use of prescription glucocorticoids can significantly induce muscle atrophy by activating the glucocorticoid receptor, thereby transcribing genes that shift protein balance in favor of net protein degradation. Although mechanical overload can blunt glucocorticoid-induced atrophy in young muscle, those affected by glucocorticoids generally have impaired force generation. It is unknown whether contractile force alters the ability of resistance exercise to mitigate glucocorticoid receptor translocation and induce a desirable shift in protein balance when glucocorticoids are elevated. In the present study, mice were subjected to a single bout of unilateral, electrically induced muscle contractions by stimulating the sciatic nerve at 100 Hz or 50 Hz frequencies to elicit high or moderate force contractions of the tibialis anterior, respectively. Dexamethasone was used to activate the glucocorticoid receptor. Dexamethasone increased glucocorticoid signaling, including nuclear translocation of the receptor, but this was mitigated only by high force contractions. The ability of high force contractions to mitigate glucocorticoid receptor translocation coincided with a contraction-mediated increase in muscle protein synthesis, which did not occur in the dexamethasone-treated mice subjected to moderate force contractions. Though moderate force contractions failed to increase protein synthesis following dexamethasone treatment, both high and moderate force contractions blunted the glucocorticoid-mediated increase in LC3 II:I marker of autophagy. Thus, these data show that force generation is important for the ability of resistance exercise to mitigate glucocorticoid receptor translocation and promote a desirable shift in protein balance when glucocorticoids are elevated. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Glucocorticoids induce significant skeletal muscle atrophy by activating the glucocorticoid receptor. Our work shows that muscle contractile force dictates glucocorticoid receptor nuclear translocation. We also show that blunting nuclear translocation by high force contractions coincides with the ability of muscle to mount an anabolic response characterized by increased muscle protein synthesis. This work further defines the therapeutic parameters of skeletal muscle contractions to blunt glucocorticoid-induced atrophy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physiology (medical)