Slow component of [V]O(2) kinetics: the effect of training status, fibre type, UCP3 mRNA and citrate synthase activity

A Russell, G Wadley, R Snow, J-P Giacobino, P Muzzin, A Garnham, D Cameron-Smith
International Journal of Obesity and related Metabolic Disorders 2002, 26 (2): 157-64

OBJECTIVE: In healthy individuals performing constant-load exercise at intensities above the lactate threshold a secondary rise in pulmonary oxygen uptake ([V]O(2)) occurs. [V]O(2) reaches a maximum and exhaustion rapidly prevails for a range of work rates lower than the maximal work rate achieved during a conventional rapid-incremental test. This phenomenon is called the slow component (SC) of [V]O(2) kinetics and represents an increase in [V]O(2) without an increase in work rate. Although still under debate, the magnitude of the SC is believed to be associated with the percentage of type II muscle fibres and their recruitment. In this study we investigated the relationship between the magnitude of the relative SC, citrate synthase activity, UCP2 and UCP3 mRNA levels and muscle fibre composition in both endurance-trained and recreationally active subjects.

METHOD: The magnitude of the relative SC was measured in 12 endurance-trained (Tr) and 15 recreationally active (RA) male subjects. The magnitude of the relative SC was determined as the difference between the end-exercise [V]O(2) and 3 min [V]O(2) divided by the difference between end-exercise [V]O(2) and baseline [V]O(2). UCP2 and UCP3 mRNA expression in the vastus lateralis was measured by RT-PCR with beta-actin mRNA used as an internal control. These values were also normalized against cytochrome-b mRNA to control for training induced changes in mitochondria when comparing the Tr and RA groups. Type I, IIa and IIx skeletal muscle fibre composition was determined using a routine myosin ATPase histochemical staining technique. Citrate synthase (CS) activity was measured using spectrophotometric detection.

RESULTS: The magnitude of the relative SC of the Tr group had the highest correlation with citrate synthase activity (r=-0.90, P<0.001) and that of the RA group with [V]O(2) peak (r=-0.68, P<0.01). For the Tr group other correlations with the magnitude of the relative SC included UCP3 mRNA levels (r=0.69, P<0.05) and the percentage of type I fibres (r=-0.58, P<0.05), while for the RA group they included UCP3 mRNA (r=0.58, P<0.05) and the percentage of type IIa muscle fibres (r=0.59, P<0.05). The Tr subjects had a lower relative SC (P=0.04) and a lower expression of UCP2 (P=0.04), and UCP3 mRNA (P=0.01) than the RA subjects. When the groups were combined the magnitude of the relative SC correlated with UCP3 mRNA (r=0.70, P<0.01), percentage of type IIa muscle fibres (r=0.60, P<0.01) and [V]O(2) peak (r=-0.73, P<0.01). Additionally UCP3 mRNA correlated with the percentage of type IIa muscle fibres (r=0.63, P<0.001).

CONCLUSION: Citrate synthase activity and [V]O(2) peak are indicators of aerobic fitness. The high negative correlations between the magnitude of the relative SC and citrate synthase activity and [V]O(2) peak, of the Tr and RA subjects, respectively, suggests that the magnitude of the relative SC is inversely correlated with aerobic fitness. Additionally the correlations between UCP3 mRNA and the magnitude of the relative SC for both groups individually and combined suggest that the uncoupling activity of the UCP3 protein may also influence the magnitude of the relative SC.

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