Skeletal muscle fibre plasticity in response to selected environmental and physiological stimuli
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Skeletal muscle constitutes a highly adaptable and malleable tissue that responds to environmental and physiological challenges by changing its phenotype in terms of size and composition, outcomes that are brought about by changes in gene expression, biochemical and metabolic properties. Both the short- and long-term effects of nutritional alterations on skeletal muscle homeostasis have been defined as the object of intensive research over the last thirty years. This review focuses predominantly on assimilating our understanding of the changes in muscle fibre phenotype and functional properties induced by either food restriction or alternatively existing on a high fat diet. Firstly, food restriction has been shown in a number of studies to decrease the myofibre cross sectional area and consistently, it has been found that glycolytic type IIB fibres are more prone to atrophy than oxidative fibres. Secondly, in rodents, a high fat diet has been shown to induce an oxidative profile in skeletal muscle, although obese humans usually show higher numbers of glycolytic type IIB fibres. Moreover, attention is paid to the effect of prenatal maternal food restriction on muscle development of the offspring in various species. A key point related to these experiments is the timing of food restriction for the mother. Furthermore, we explore extensively the seemingly species-specific response to maternal malnutrition. Finally, key signalling molecules that play a pivotal role in energy metabolism, fibre type transitions and muscle hypertrophy are discussed in detail.
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