Betaine supplement enhances skeletal muscle differentiation in murine myoblasts via IGF-1 signaling activation

Pamela Senesi, Livio Luzi, Anna Montesano, Nausicaa Mazzocchi, Ileana Terruzzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Betaine (BET) is a component of many foods, including spinach and wheat. It is an essential osmolyte and a source of methyl groups. Recent studies have hypothesized that BET might play a role in athletic performance. However, BET effects on skeletal muscle differentiation and hypertrophy are still poorly understood.Methods: We examined BET action on neo myotubes maturation and on differentiation process, using C2C12 murine myoblastic cells. We used RT2-PCR array, Western blot and immunofluorescence analysis to study the BET effects on morphological features of C2C12 and on signaling pathways involved in muscle differentiation and hypertrophy.Results: We performed a dose-response study, establishing that 10 mM BET was the dose able to stimulate morphological changes and hypertrophic process in neo myotubes. RT2-PCR array methodology was used to identify the expression profile of genes encoding proteins involved in IGF-1 pathway. A dose of 10 mM BET was found to promote IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1 R) expression. Western blot and immunofluorescence analysis, performed in neo myotubes, pointed out that 10 mM BET improved IGF-1 signaling, synthesis of Myosin Heavy Chain (MyHC) and neo myotubes length.In addition, we investigated BET role on myoblasts proliferation and differentiation. During proliferation, BET did not modify C2C12 proliferative rate, but promoted myogenic induction, enhancing MyoD protein content and cellular elongation. During differentiation, BET caused an increase of muscle-specific markers and IGF-1 R protein levels.Conclusions: Our findings provide the first evidence that BET could promote muscle fibers differentiation and increase myotubes size by IGF-1 pathway activation, suggesting that BET might represent a possible new drug/integrator strategy, not only in sport performance but also in clinical conditions characterized by muscle function impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number174
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 19 2013


  • Betaine
  • Hypertrophy
  • IGF-1
  • Muscle tissue
  • Myoblast differentiation
  • Striated muscle cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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