Disuse-induced muscle atrophy is a major concern in aging, in neuromuscular diseases, post-traumatic injury and in microgravity life sciences affecting health and fitness also of crew members in spaceflight. By using a laboratory analogue to body unloading we perform for the first time global gene expression profiling joined to specific proteomic analysis to map molecular adaptations in disused (60 days of bed rest) human soleus muscle (CTR) and in response to a resistive exercise (RE) countermeasure protocol without and with superimposed vibration mechanosignals (RVE). Adopting Affymetrix GeneChip technology we identified 235 differently transcribed genes in the CTR group (end-vs. pre-bed rest). RE comprised 206 differentially expressed genes, whereas only 51 changed gene transcripts were found in RVE. Most gene transcription and proteomic changes were linked to various key metabolic pathways (glycolysis, oxidative phosphorylation, tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, lipid metabolism) and to functional contractile structures. Gene expression profiling in bed rest identified a novel set of genes explicitly responsive to vibration mechanosignals in human soleus. This new finding highlights the efficacy of RVE protocol in reducing key signs of disuse maladaptation and atrophy, and to maintain a close-to-normal skeletal muscle quality outcome following chronic disuse in bed rest.
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