European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 113, Issue 12, pp 2953–2965 | Cite as

Acute low-load resistance exercise with and without blood flow restriction increased protein signalling and number of satellite cells in human skeletal muscle

  • Mathias WernbomEmail author
  • William Apro
  • Gøran Paulsen
  • Tormod S. Nilsen
  • Eva Blomstrand
  • Truls Raastad
Original Article



To investigate hypertrophic signalling after a single bout of low-load resistance exercise with and without blood flow restriction (BFR).


Seven subjects performed unilateral knee extensions at 30 % of their one repetition maximum. The subjects performed five sets to failure with BFR on one leg, and then repeated the same amount of work with the other leg without BFR. Biopsies were obtained from m. vastus lateralis before and 1, 24 and 48 h after exercise.


At 1-h post-exercise, phosphorylation of p70S6KThr389 and p38MAPKThr180/Tyr182 was elevated in the BFR leg, but not in the free-flow leg. Phospho-p70S6KThr389 was elevated three- to fourfold in both legs at 24-h post-exercise, but back to baseline at 48 h. The number of visible satellite cells (SCs) per muscle fibre was increased for all post-exercise time points and in both legs (33–53 %). The proportion of SCs with cytoplasmic extensions was elevated at 1-h post in the BFR leg and the number of SCs positive for myogenin and/or MyoD was increased at 1- and 24-h post-exercise for both legs combined.


Acute low-load resistance exercise with BFR resulted in early (1 h) and late (24 h) enhancement of phospho-p70S6KThr389, an early response of p38MAPK, and an increased number of SCs per muscle fibre. Enhanced phospho-p70S6KThr389 at 24-h post-exercise and increases in SC numbers were seen also in the free-flow leg. Implications of these findings for the hypertrophic effects of fatiguing low-load resistance exercise with and without BFR are discussed.


Blood flow restricted exercise Ischaemic resistance exercise Anabolic signalling P70S6 kinase 



The authors thank the subjects for their time and effort. This project was in part supported by a grant from the Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports (Grant: CIF 125/05).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mathias Wernbom
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • William Apro
    • 3
    • 4
  • Gøran Paulsen
    • 1
  • Tormod S. Nilsen
    • 1
  • Eva Blomstrand
    • 3
    • 5
  • Truls Raastad
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physical PerformanceNorwegian School of Sport SciencesOsloNorway
  2. 2.Lundberg Laboratory for Human Muscle Function and Movement Analysis, Department of Orthopaedics, Sahlgrenska University HospitalThe Sahlgrenska Academy at University of GothenburgGöteborgSweden
  3. 3.Åstrand LaboratorySwedish School of Sport and Health SciencesStockholmSweden
  4. 4.Department of Clinical Sciences, Intervention and TechnologyKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  5. 5.Department of Physiology and PharmacologyKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden

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