Physical exercise is deemed the most efficient way of counteracting the age-related decline of skeletal muscle. Here we report a transcriptional study by next-generation sequencing of vastus lateralis biopsies from elderly with a life-long high-level training practice (n = 9) and from age-matched sedentary subjects (n = 5). Unsupervised mixture distribution analysis was able to correctly categorize trained and untrained subjects, whereas it failed to discriminate between individuals who underwent a prevalent endurance (n = 5) or a prevalent resistance (n = 4) training, thus showing that the training mode was not relevant for sarcopenia prevention. KEGG analysis of transcripts showed that physical exercise affected a high number of metabolic and signaling pathways, in particular those related to energy handling and mitochondrial biogenesis, where AMPK and AKT-mTOR signaling pathways are both active and balance each other, concurring to the establishment of an insulin-sensitive phenotype and to the maintenance of a functional muscle mass. Other pathways affected by exercise training increased the efficiency of the proteostatic mechanisms, consolidated the cytoskeletal organization, lowered the inflammation level, and contrasted cellular senescence. This study on extraordinary individuals who trained at high level for at least thirty years suggests that aging processes and exercise training travel the same paths in the opposite direction.
- endurance and resistance training
- gene expression
- skeletal muscle