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European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 10, pp 2097–2110 | Cite as

Muscle health and performance in monozygotic twins with 30 years of discordant exercise habits

  • Katherine E. Bathgate
  • James R. Bagley
  • Edward Jo
  • Robert J. Talmadge
  • Irene S. Tobias
  • Lee E. Brown
  • Jared W. Coburn
  • Jose A. Arevalo
  • Nancy L. Segal
  • Andrew J. Galpin
Original Article

Abstract

Introduction

Physical health and function depend upon both genetic inheritance and environmental factors (e.g., exercise training).

Purpose

To enhance the understanding of heritability/adaptability, we explored the skeletal muscle health and physiological performance of monozygotic (MZ) twins with > 30 years of chronic endurance training vs. no specific/consistent exercise.

Methods

One pair of male MZ twins (age = 52 years; Trained Twin, TT; Untrained Twin, UT) underwent analyses of: (1) anthropometric characteristics and blood profiles, (2) markers of cardiovascular and pulmonary health, and (3) skeletal muscle size, strength, and power and molecular markers of muscle health.

Results

This case study represents the most comprehensive physiological comparison of MZ twins with this length and magnitude of differing exercise history. TT exhibited: (1) lower body mass, body fat%, resting heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and plasma glucose, (2) greater relative cycling power, anaerobic endurance, and aerobic capacity (VO2max), but lower muscle size/strength and poorer muscle quality, (3) more MHC I (slow-twitch) and fewer MHC IIa (fast-twitch) fibers, (4) greater AMPK protein expression, and (5) greater PAX7, IGF1Ec, IGF1Ea, and FN14 mRNA expression than UT.

Conclusions

Several measured differences are the largest reported between MZ twins (TT expressed 55% more MHC I fibers, 12.4 ml/kg/min greater VO2max, and 8.6% lower body fat% vs. UT). These data collectively (a) support utilizing chronic endurance training to improve body composition and cardiovascular health and (b) suggest the cardiovascular and skeletal muscle systems exhibit greater plasticity than previously thought, further highlighting the importance of studying MZ twins with large (long-term) differences in exposomes.

Keywords

Fiber type Myosin heavy chain Maximal oxygen consumption Endurance training FN14 PAX7 Body composition AMPK Aerobic exercise Aging 

Abbreviations

%BF

Body fat percentage

AMPK

5′ AMP-activated protein kinase

B2M

β-2-microglobulin

BMC

Bone mineral content

BMD

Bone mineral density

CHOL

Total cholesterol

CS

Citrate synthase

CSA

Muscular cross-sectional area

DBP

Diastolic blood pressure

DXA

Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry

ECL

Enhanced chemiluminescent

EI

Echo intensity

FEV1

Forced expiatory volume in the first second

FM

Fat mass

FVC

Forced vital capacity

HbA1c

Glycosylated hemoglobin

HDL

High-density lipoprotein

IGF1Ea

Insulin-like growth factor a

IGF1Ec

Mechano-growth factor

kcal

Kilocalorie

LDL

Low-density lipoprotein

LM

Lean mass

MHC

Myosin heavy chain

MSTN

Myostatin

MT

Muscle thickness

MVIC

Maximal voluntary isometric contraction

MyHC

Myosin heavy chain gene

MZ

Monozygotic

NOS3

Endothelial nitric oxide synthase

PP

Peak power

PPIA

Cyclophilin

QRT-PCR

Quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction

RER

Respiratory exchange ratio

RHR

Resting heart rate

RPE

Rating of perceived exertion

RPM

Rotations per minute

SBP

Systolic blood pressure

TFAM

Transcription factor A of the mitochondria

TNF

Tumor necrosis factor-α

TRIG

Triglycerides

TT

Trained twin

UT

Untrained twin

VAT

Visceral adipose tissue

VEGFA

Vascular endothelial growth factor

VL

Vastus lateralis

VO2max

Maximal aerobic capacity

WAnT

Wingate anaerobic test

WEEE

Weekly estimated energy expenditure

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Kathryn McLeland, Cassio Ruas, Nathan Serrano, Kara Lazauskas, and Colleen Gulick for their assistance with this project. This research was funded by a California State University Development of Research and Creativity (CSU-DRC) Grant to J.R. Bagley.

Author contributions

JRB and AJG conceived and designed this work. KEB, JRB, EJ, RJT, IST, JAA, and AJG performed the experiments. All authors collected and analyzed the data. KEB, JRB, LEB, JWC, NLS, and AJG interpreted the results of experiments. KEB, AJG, and JRB drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Ethical standards

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University’s Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biochemistry and Molecular Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Center for Sport Performance, Department of KinesiologyCalifornia State UniversityFullertonUSA
  2. 2.Muscle Physiology Laboratory, Department of KinesiologySan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.Human Performance Research LaboratoryCalifornia State Polytechnic UniversityPomonaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biological SciencesCalifornia State Polytechnic UniversityPomonaUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyCalifornia State UniversityFullertonUSA

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