Effect of lifelong football training on the expression of muscle molecular markers involved in healthy longevity

A. Mancini, D. Vitucci, G. Labruna, E. Imperlini, M. B. Randers, J. F. Schmidt, M. Hagman, T. R. Andersen, R. Russo, S. Orrù, P. Krustrup, F. Salvatore, P. Buono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: We investigated whether lifelong football training affects the expression of healthy longevity-related muscle molecular markers. Methods: Biopsies were collected from the vastus lateralis muscle of 10 lifelong football-trained men (68.2 ± 3.0 years) and of 10 active untrained healthy men (66.7 ± 1.3 years). Gene and protein expression was measured by RTqPCR on RNA and by western blotting on protein extracts from muscle biopsies, respectively. Results: The expression of AMPKα1/α2, NAMPT, TFAM and PGC1α, which are markers of oxidative metabolism, and MyHC β isoform expression was higher in the muscle of football-trained men vs untrained men. Also citrate synthase activity was higher in trained than in untrained men (109.3 ± 9.2 vs 75.1 ± 9.2 mU/mg). These findings were associated with a healthier body composition in trained than in untrained men [body weight: 78.2 ± 6.5 vs 91.2 ± 11.2 kg; body mass index BMI: 24.4 ± 1.6 vs 28.8 ± 4.0 kg m−2; fat%: 22.6 ± 8.0 vs 31.4 ± 5.0%)] and with a higher maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max: 34.7 ± 3.8 vs 27.3 ± 4.0 ml/min/kg). Also the expression of proteins involved in DNA repair and in senescence suppression (Erk1/2, Akt and FoxM1) was higher in trained than in untrained men. At BMI- and age-adjusted multiple linear regression analysis, fat percentage was independently associated with Akt protein expression, and VO2max was independently associated with TFAM mRNA and with Erk1/2 protein expression. Conclusions: Lifelong football training increases the expression of key markers involved in muscle oxidative metabolism, and in the DNA repair and senescence suppression pathways, thus providing the molecular basis for healthy longevity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-730
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2017


  • DNA repair and senescence suppression
  • Healthy aging
  • Long-term football training
  • Veteran football players

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)


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