, Volume 105, Issue 4, pp 515-524
Date: 19 Nov 2008

Effect of intermittent hypoxic training on HIF gene expression in human skeletal muscle and leukocytes

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Intermittent hypoxic exposure with exercise training is based on the assumption that brief exposure to hypoxia is sufficient to induce beneficial muscular adaptations mediated via hypoxia-inducible transcription factors (HIF). We previously demonstrated (Mounier et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc 38:1410–1417, 2006) that leukocytes respond to hypoxia with a marked inter-individual variability in HIF-1α mRNA. This study compared the effects of 3 weeks of intermittent hypoxic training on hif gene expression in both skeletal muscle and leukocytes. Male endurance athletes (n = 19) were divided into an Intermittent Hypoxic Exposure group (IHE) and a Normoxic Training group (NT) with each group following a similar 3-week exercise training program. After training, the amount of HIF-1α mRNA in muscle decreased only in IHE group (−24.7%, P < 0.05) whereas it remained unchanged in leukocytes in both groups. The levels of vEGF121 and vEGF165 mRNA in skeletal muscle increased significantly after training only in the NT group (+82.5%, P < 0.05 for vEGF121; +41.2%, P < 0.05 for vEGF165). In leukocytes, only the IHE group showed a significant change in vEGF165 (−28.2%, P < 0.05). The significant decrease in HIF-1α mRNA in skeletal muscle after hypoxic training suggests that transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulations of the hif-1α gene are different in muscle and leukocytes.