Human skeletal muscle acetylcholine receptor gene expression in elderly males performing heavy resistance exercise


Muscle fiber denervation is a major contributor to the decline in muscle mass and function during aging. Heavy resistance exercise is an effective tool for increasing muscle mass and strength, but whether it can rescue denervated muscle fibers remains unclear. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the potential of heavy resistance exercise to modify indices of denervation in healthy elderly individuals. Thirty-eight healthy elderly men (72 ± 5 yr) underwent 16 wk of heavy resistance exercise, whereas 20 healthy elderly men (72 ± 6 yr) served as nonexercising sedentary controls. Muscle biopsies were obtained pre and post training, and midway at 8 wk. Biopsies were analyzed by immunofluorescence for the prevalence of myofibers expressing embryonic myosin [embryonic myosin heavy chain (MyHCe)], neonatal myosin [neonatal myosin heavy chain (MyHCn)], nestin, and neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM), and by RT-qPCR for gene expression levels of acetylcholine receptor (AChR) subunits, MyHCn, MyHCe, p16, and Ki67. In addition to increases in strength and type II fiber hypertrophy, heavy resistance exercise training led to a decrease in AChR α1 and ε subunit messenger RNA (mRNA; at 8 wk). Changes in gene expression levels of the α1 and ε AChR subunits with 8 wk of heavy resistance exercise supports the role of this type of exercise in targeting stability of the neuromuscular junction. The number of fibers positive for NCAM, nestin, and MyHCn was not affected, suggesting that a longer timeframe is needed for adaptations to manifest at the protein level.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology: Cell Physiology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)C159-C169
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy
  • Male
  • Muscle Denervation
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal/metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal/metabolism
  • Myosin Heavy Chains/metabolism
  • Nestin/metabolism
  • Receptors, Cholinergic/metabolism
  • Resistance Training
  • Transcriptome


Dive into the research topics of 'Human skeletal muscle acetylcholine receptor gene expression in elderly males performing heavy resistance exercise'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this