Treadmill training-induced adaptations in muscle phenotype in persons with incomplete spinal cord injury
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Body weight-supported treadmill (BWST) training has been shown to improve ambulatory capacity in persons with a spinal cord injury (SCI); however, the effect that BWST training has on skeletal muscle phenotype is unknown. We aimed to determine whether 6 months (three sessions/week) of BWST training in neurologically stable persons with a traumatic spinal cord injury (ASIA C) alters skeletal muscle phenotype, ambulatory capacity, and blood lipid profile. Externally supported body weight decreased, and walking velocity and duration of the training sessions increased (all P < 0.05) as a result of training. Muscle biopsies revealed increases in the mean muscle-fiber area of type I and IIa fibers. Training induced a reduction in type IIax/IIx fibers, as well as a decrease in IIX myosin heavy chain, and an increase in type IIa fibers. Maximal citrate synthase and 3-hydroxy-acyl-CoA dehydrogenase activity also increased following training. BWST training brought about reductions in plasma total (-11%) and low-density lipoprotein (-13%) cholesterol. We conclude that, in patients with a spinal cord injury, BWST training is able to induce an increase in muscle fiber size and bring about increases in muscle oxidative capacity. In addition, BWST training can bring about improvements in ambulatory capacity and antiatherogenic changes in blood lipid profile.
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