Review

Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 69, Issue 10, pp 1651-1667

First online:

Androgens and skeletal muscle: cellular and molecular action mechanisms underlying the anabolic actions

  • Vanessa DuboisAffiliated withMolecular Endocrinology Laboratory, Department of Molecular Cell Biology, K.U. Leuven
  • , Michaël LaurentAffiliated withDivision of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Department of Experimental Medicine, K.U. Leuven
  • , Steven BoonenAffiliated withDivision of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Department of Experimental Medicine, K.U. Leuven
  • , Dirk VanderschuerenAffiliated withDivision of Experimental Medicine and Endocrinology, K.U. Leuven
  • , Frank ClaessensAffiliated withMolecular Endocrinology Laboratory, Department of Molecular Cell Biology, K.U. Leuven Email author 

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Abstract

Androgens increase both the size and strength of skeletal muscle via diverse mechanisms. The aim of this review is to discuss the different cellular targets of androgens in skeletal muscle as well as the respective androgen actions in these cells leading to changes in proliferation, myogenic differentiation, and protein metabolism. Androgens bind and activate a specific nuclear receptor which will directly affect the transcription of target genes. These genes encode muscle-specific transcription factors, enzymes, structural proteins, as well as microRNAs. In addition, anabolic action of androgens is partly established through crosstalk with other signaling molecules such as Akt, myostatin, IGF-I, and Notch. Finally, androgens may also exert non-genomic effects in muscle by increasing Ca2+ uptake and modulating kinase activities. In conclusion, the anabolic effect of androgens on skeletal muscle is not only explained by activation of the myocyte androgen receptor but is also the combined result of many genomic and non-genomic actions.

Keywords

Androgens Androgen receptor Skeletal muscle Satellite cells Myostatin IGF-I Non-genomic signaling