Original Article

European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 97, Issue 3, pp 261-271

Human skeletal muscle structure and function preserved by vibration muscle exercise following 55 days of bed rest

  • Dieter BlottnerAffiliated withDepartment of Vegetative Anatomy, Center of Space Medicine Berlin, Neuromuscular Group, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin Email author 
  • , Michele SalanovaAffiliated withDepartment of Vegetative Anatomy, Center of Space Medicine Berlin, Neuromuscular Group, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin
  • , Britta PüttmannAffiliated withDepartment of Vegetative Anatomy, Center of Space Medicine Berlin, Neuromuscular Group, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin
  • , Gudrun SchifflAffiliated withDepartment of Vegetative Anatomy, Center of Space Medicine Berlin, Neuromuscular Group, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin
  • , Dieter FelsenbergAffiliated withCenter for Muscle and Bone Research (ZMK), Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin
  • , Björn BuehringAffiliated withCenter for Muscle and Bone Research (ZMK), Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin
  • , Jörn RittwegerAffiliated withInstitute for Biophysical and Clinical Research into Human Movement, Manchester Metropolitan University

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Abstract

Prolonged immobilization of the human body results in functional impairments and musculoskeletal system deconditioning that may be attenuated by adequate muscle exercise. In a 56-day horizontal bed rest campaign involving voluntary males we investigated the effects of vibration muscle exercise (RVE, 2×6 min daily) on the lower limb skeletal muscles using a newly designed foot plantar trainer (Galileo Space) for use at supine position during bed rest. The maximally voluntary isometric plantar flexion force was maintained following regular RVE bouts during bed rest (controls −18.6 %, P<0.05). At the start (BR2) and end of bed rest (BR55) muscle biopsies were taken from both mixed fast/slow-type vastus lateralis (VL) and mainly slow-type soleus muscle (SOL), each having n=10. RVE group: the size of myofiber types I and II was largely unchanged in VL, and increased in SOL. Ctrl group: the SOL depicted a disrupted pattern of myofibers I/II profiles (i.e., type II>140 % vs. preBR) suggesting a slow-to-fast muscle phenotype shift. In RVE-trained SOL, however, an overall conserved myofiber I/II pattern was documented. RVE training increased the activity-dependent expression of nitric oxide synthase type 1 immunofluorescence at SOL and VL myofiber membranes. These data provide evidence for the beneficial effects of RVE training on the deconditioned structure and function of the lower limb skeletal muscle. Daily short RVE should be employed as an effective atrophy countermeasure co-protocol preferentially addressing postural calf muscles during prolonged clinical immobilization or long-term human space missions.

Keywords

Skeletal muscle atrophy Neuromuscular disorders Countermeasure Rehabilitation Spaceflight