JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, N.I.H., EXTRAMURAL
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Endurance exercise attenuates juvenile irradiation-induced skeletal muscle functional decline and mitochondrial stress.

Skeletal Muscle 2022 April 13
BACKGROUND: Radiotherapy is commonly used to treat childhood cancers and can have adverse effects on muscle function, but the underlying mechanisms have yet to be fully elucidated. We hypothesized that endurance exercise following radiation treatment would improve skeletal muscle function.

METHODS: We utilized the Small Animal Radiation Research Platform (SARRP) to irradiate juvenile male mice with a clinically relevant fractionated dose of 3× (every other day over 5 days) 8.2 Gy X-ray irradiation locally from the knee to footpad region of the right hindlimb. Mice were then singly housed for 1 month in cages equipped with either locked or free-spinning voluntary running wheels. Ex vivo muscle contractile function, RT-qPCR analyses, resting cytosolic and sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) store Ca2+ levels, mitochondrial reactive oxygen species levels (MitoSOX), and immunohistochemical and biochemical analyses of muscle samples were conducted to assess the muscle pathology and the relative therapeutic impact of voluntary wheel running (VWR).

RESULTS: Irradiation reduced fast-twitch extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscle-specific force by 27% compared to that of non-irradiated mice, while VWR post-irradiation improved muscle-specific force by 37%. Radiation treatment similarly reduced slow-twitch soleus muscle-specific force by 14% compared to that of non-irradiated mice, while VWR post-irradiation improved specific force by 18%. We assessed intracellular Ca2+ regulation, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial homeostasis as potential mechanisms of radiation-induced pathology and exercise-mediated rescue. We found a significant reduction in resting cytosolic Ca2+ concentration following irradiation in sedentary mice. Intriguingly, however, SR Ca2+ store content was increased in myofibers from irradiated mice post-VWR compared to mice that remained sedentary. We observed a 73% elevation in the overall protein oxidization in muscle post-irradiation, while VWR reduced protein nitrosylation by 35% and mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production by 50%. Finally, we found that VWR significantly increased the expression of PGC1α at both the transcript and protein levels, consistent with an exercise-dependent increase in mitochondrial biogenesis.

CONCLUSIONS: Juvenile irradiation stunted muscle development, disrupted proper Ca2+ handling, damaged mitochondria, and increased oxidative and nitrosative stress, paralleling significant deficits in muscle force production. Exercise mitigated aberrant Ca2+ handling, mitochondrial homeostasis, and increased oxidative and nitrosative stress in a manner that correlated with improved skeletal muscle function after radiation.

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