Acute effects of endurance exercise on mitochondrial distribution and skeletal muscle morphology

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Biopsies of vastus lateralis from seven well-trained males were studied 1 month before and 15–30 min after a 100-km race. The distribution of interfibrillar mitochondria was analyzed to determine whether a long bout of exercise induced a redistribution of mitochondria. Capillary densities and mean fiber areas were also estimated. Capillary density and mean interfibrillar mitochondrial volume density were found to be significantly correlated with running time in the race. An earlier study on these biopsies found that the mean volume densities of interfibrillar and subsarcolemmal mitochondria did not change after a race, but the volume densities of lipid droplets and interfibrillar glycogen decreased significantly. In the present study, volume density of interfibrillar mitochondria [Vv(mi, fim)] before the race was highest with a value of 0.098±0.007 near the fiber border, and decreased progressively with distance to 0.045±0.004 at the fiber center. After the race, Vv(mi, fim) was unchanged at the fiber border, but was significantly higher (0.062±0.005) in the center of the fiber. This increase in mitochondrial volume density was attributable to the shrinkage of the fibers from consumption of energy stores, which was relatively greater for interfibrillar glycogen than for subsarcolemmal glycogen. Thus the primary effect of this extended bout of endurance exercise on vastus lateralis was the nearly complete depletion of the interfibrillar glycogen and lipids, but there was no evidence of an acute redistribution of mitochondria.

Supported by a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation