Duchenne muscular dystrophy is characterized by muscle wasting and decreased aerobic metabolism. Exercise and blocking of myostatin/activin signaling may independently or combined counteract muscle wasting and dystrophies. The effects of myostatin/activin blocking using soluble activin receptor-Fc (sActRIIB-Fc) administration and wheel running were tested alone or in combination for 7 weeks in dystrophic mdx mice. Expression microarray analysis revealed decreased aerobic metabolism in the gastrocnemius muscle of mdx mice compared to healthy mice. This was not due to reduced home-cage physical activity, and was further downregulated upon sActRIIB-Fc treatment in enlarged muscles. However, exercise activated pathways of aerobic metabolism and counteracted the negative effects of sActRIIB-Fc. Exercise and sActRIIB-Fc synergistically increased expression of major urinary protein, but exercise blocked sActRIIB-Fc induced phosphorylation of STAT5 in gastrocnemius muscle. In conclusion, exercise alone or in combination with myostatin/activin blocking corrects aerobic gene expression profiles of dystrophic muscle toward healthy wild type mice profiles.
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