Fast and slow muscle fiber transcriptome dynamics with lifelong endurance exercise

Ulrika Raue, Gwenaelle Begue, Kiril Minchev, Bozena Jemiolo, Kevin J. Gries, Toby Chambers, Aliza Rubenstein, Elena Zaslavsky, Stuart C. Sealfon, Todd Trappe, Scott Trappe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated fast and slow muscle fiber transcriptome exercise dynamics among three groups of men: lifelong exercisers (LLE, n ¼ 8, 74 ± 1 yr), old healthy nonexercisers (OH, n ¼ 9, 75 ± 1 yr), and young exercisers (YE, n ¼ 8, 25 ± 1 yr). On average, LLE had exercised 4 day·wk-1 for 8 h·wk1 over 53 ± 2 years. Muscle biopsies were obtained pre- and 4 h postresistance exercise (3 10 knee extensions at 70% 1-RM). Fast and slow fiber size and function were assessed preexercise with fast and slow RNA-seq profiles examined pre- and postexercise. LLE fast fiber size was similar to OH, which was 30% smaller than YE (P < 0.05) with contractile function variables among groups, resulting in lower power in LLE (P < 0.05). LLE slow fibers were 30% larger and more powerful compared with YE and OH (P < 0.05). At the transcriptome level, fast fibers were more responsive to resistance exercise compared with slow fibers among all three cohorts (P < 0.05). Exercise induced a comprehensive biological response in fast fibers (P < 0.05) including transcription, signaling, skeletal muscle cell differentiation, and metabolism with vast differences among the groups. Fast fibers from YE exhibited a growth and metabolic signature, with LLE being primarily metabolic, and OH showing a strong stress-related response. In slow fibers, only LLE exhibited a biological response to exercise (P < 0.05), which was related to ketone and lipid metabolism. The divergent exercise transcriptome signatures provide novel insight into the molecular regulation in fast and slow fibers with age and exercise and suggest that the 5% weekly exercise time commitment of the lifelong exercisers provided a powerful investment for fast and slow muscle fiber metabolic health at the molecular level. NEW & NOTEWORTHY This study provides the first insights into fast and slow muscle fiber transcriptome dynamics with lifelong endurance exercise. The fast fibers were more responsive to exercise with divergent transcriptome signatures among young exercisers (growth and metabolic), lifelong exercisers (metabolic), and old healthy nonexercisers (stress). Only lifelong exercisers had a biological response in slow fibers (metabolic). These data provide novel insights into fast and slow muscle fiber health at the molecular level with age and exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-261
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024


  • aging
  • exercise
  • masters athletes
  • skeletal muscle
  • transcriptome


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