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Researchers at MU School of Pharmacy and School of Physical Therapy study the effects of metabolic syndrome on skeletal muscle adaptation
Dr. Eric Arnold, from Marshall’s School of Physical Therapy, and Dr. Eric Blough, from the School of Pharmaceutical Science and Research, worked together on the project.
Metabolic syndrome, also known as syndrome X or insulin resistance syndrome, is one of the fastest growing health problems in the United States with more than one of every three adults suffering from the disorder, according to Arnold and Blough.
They also said that over the next two decades, the incidence of metabolic syndrome is projected to increase to epidemic levels in both the industrialized and developing worlds. Patients with metabolic syndrome typically are obese, suffer from insulin resistance and exhibit elevations in blood sugar and lipid levels.
“It’s important to assemble a team of experts from various health professions and scientific disciplines, to address the complexity of type 2 diabetes,” Arnold said. “That’s what it is all about, working together to research and discover an optimal therapeutic strategy for this chronic disease. Collaboration is important.”
Marshall’s researchers have been using the obese Zucker rat (Leprfa) which models many of the characteristic features of metabolic syndrome seen in humans to examine how the disorder may affect the ability of their skeletal muscles to adapt to an exercise stimulus.
“Because exercise is almost always prescribed as a treatment modality for these patients, we need to understand how skeletal muscles of someone with metabolic syndrome may respond to exercise if we ever want to optimize the therapeutic treatment of this disease,” Arnold said.
Their research, titled “Insulin resistance does not inhibit the ability of the mechanical overload to induce hypertrophy in the Obese Zucker Rat (Leprfa) plantaris muscle,” was published in April.
Significant findings provided evidence that metabolic syndrome did not impair the ability of the rat fast twitch plantaris muscle to experience hypertrophy when exposed to muscle overload as reflected by increases in myofibrillar protein content and increases in muscle fiber cross-sectional area.
“This finding is pretty interesting given that previous work by our group has shown the muscle adaptation in the slow twitch soleus muscle is impaired with metabolic syndrome,” Blough said. “This study, along with our other work, suggests that metabolic syndrome may affect different muscle types differently. This adds a level of complexity that I don’t think others have shown in the past and may have important implications in the design of exercise intervention programs.”