Myostatin expression is regulated by underfeeding and neonatal programming in rats
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- Carneiro, I., González, T., López, M. et al. J Physiol Biochem (2013) 69: 15. doi:10.1007/s13105-012-0183-x
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Confusing results have been reported regarding the influence of nutritional status on myostatin levels. Some studies indicate that short-term fasting results in increased myostatin mRNA levels in skeletal muscle, evident in several species. In contrast, other studies have demonstrated either a decrease or no change in myostatin levels during fasting. In the present study, we investigated the effect of different patterns of food deprivation on muscle myostatin expression in both newborn and adult rats. Adjustment of litter size in neonatal rats is a well-established model to study the effect of early overfeeding or underfeeding on body composition and in this study resulted in modifications in the pattern of muscle myostatin expression. Rat pups growing in large litters (22–24 newborns) showed a decrease in muscle myostatin mRNA and protein levels at 24 days of age. Interestingly, these effects were maintained at 60 days of age despite rats having free access to food since weaning, thus suggesting that changes in myostatin expression induced by neonatal reduction of food intake are long-lasting. In contrast, no changes in myostatin mRNA levels were observed in adult rats when food intake was decreased during 7 days by either food restriction or central leptin treatment. Similar results were obtained when food restriction was maintained in adult rats for a longer period (7 weeks), despite significant muscle loss. Overall, these data suggest that myostatin gene expression is programmed by nutritional status in neonatal life.