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Concept: Cardiac muscle


Chronic supplementation with creatine monohydrate has been shown to promote increases in total intramuscular creatine, phosphocreatine, skeletal muscle mass, lean body mass and muscle fiber size. Furthermore, there is robust evidence that muscular strength and power will also increase after supplementing with creatine. However, it is not known if the timing of creatine supplementation will affect the adaptive response to exercise. Thus, the purpose of this investigation was to determine the difference between pre versus post exercise supplementation of creatine on measures of body composition and strength.

Concepts: Muscle, Physical exercise, Cardiac muscle, Glycogen, Myosin, Muscular system, Acetylcholine, Exercise physiology


Transplantation studies in mice and rats have shown that human embryonic-stem-cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hESC-CMs) can improve the function of infarcted hearts, but two critical issues related to their electrophysiological behaviour in vivo remain unresolved. First, the risk of arrhythmias following hESC-CM transplantation in injured hearts has not been determined. Second, the electromechanical integration of hESC-CMs in injured hearts has not been demonstrated, so it is unclear whether these cells improve contractile function directly through addition of new force-generating units. Here we use a guinea-pig model to show that hESC-CM grafts in injured hearts protect against arrhythmias and can contract synchronously with host muscle. Injured hearts with hESC-CM grafts show improved mechanical function and a significantly reduced incidence of both spontaneous and induced ventricular tachycardia. To assess the activity of hESC-CM grafts in vivo, we transplanted hESC-CMs expressing the genetically encoded calcium sensor, GCaMP3 (refs 4, 5). By correlating the GCaMP3 fluorescent signal with the host ECG, we found that grafts in uninjured hearts have consistent 1:1 host–graft coupling. Grafts in injured hearts are more heterogeneous and typically include both coupled and uncoupled regions. Thus, human myocardial grafts meet physiological criteria for true heart regeneration, providing support for the continued development of hESC-based cardiac therapies for both mechanical and electrical repair.

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Heart, Muscle, Cardiac muscle, Cardiac electrophysiology, Muscular system, Ventricular fibrillation


As vertebrate embryos develop to adulthood, their organs undergo marked changes in size and tissue architecture. The heart acquires muscle mass and matures structurally to fulfil increasing circulatory needs, a process that is incompletely understood. Here we used multicolour clonal analysis to define the contributions of individual cardiomyocytes as the zebrafish heart undergoes morphogenesis from a primitive embryonic structure into its complex adult form. We find that the single-cardiomyocyte-thick wall of the juvenile ventricle forms by lateral expansion of several dozen cardiomyocytes into muscle patches of variable sizes and shapes. As juvenile zebrafish mature into adults, this structure becomes fully enveloped by a new lineage of cortical muscle. Adult cortical muscle originates from a small number of cardiomyocytes–an average of approximately eight per animal–that display clonal dominance reminiscent of stem cell populations. Cortical cardiomyocytes initially emerge from internal myofibres that in rare events breach the juvenile ventricular wall, and then expand over the surface. Our results illuminate the dynamic proliferative behaviours that generate adult cardiac structure, revealing clonal dominance as a key mechanism that shapes a vertebrate organ.

Concepts: Blood, Heart, Structure, Muscle, Cardiac muscle, Organ, Circulatory system, Adult


The purpose of this experiment was to investigate skeletal muscle blood flow and glucose uptake in m. biceps (BF) and m. quadriceps femoris (QF) 1) during recovery from high intensity cycle exercise, and 2) while wearing a compression short applying ∼37 mmHg to the thigh muscles. Blood flow and glucose uptake were measured in the compressed and non-compressed leg of 6 healthy men by using positron emission tomography. At baseline blood flow in QF (P = 0.79) and BF (P = 0.90) did not differ between the compressed and the non-compressed leg. During recovery muscle blood flow was higher compared to baseline in both compressed (P<0.01) and non-compressed QF (P<0.001) but not in compressed (P = 0.41) and non-compressed BF (P = 0.05; effect size = 2.74). During recovery blood flow was lower in compressed QF (P<0.01) but not in BF (P = 0.26) compared to the non-compressed muscles. During baseline and recovery no differences in blood flow were detected between the superficial and deep parts of QF in both, compressed (baseline P = 0.79; recovery P = 0.68) and non-compressed leg (baseline P = 0.64; recovery P = 0.06). During recovery glucose uptake was higher in QF compared to BF in both conditions (P<0.01) with no difference between the compressed and non-compressed thigh. Glucose uptake was higher in the deep compared to the superficial parts of QF (compression leg P = 0.02). These results demonstrate that wearing compression shorts with ∼37 mmHg of external pressure reduces blood flow both in the deep and superficial regions of muscle tissue during recovery from high intensity exercise but does not affect glucose uptake in BF and QF.

Concepts: Heart, Positron emission tomography, Muscle, Cardiac muscle, Glycogen, Muscular system


Several studies have correlated elevations in cardiac biomarkers of injury post marathon with transient and reversible right ventricular (RV) systolic dysfunction as assessed by both transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) and cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR). Whether or not permanent myocardial injury occurs due to repeated marathon running in the aging population remains controversial.

Concepts: Heart, Echocardiography, Muscle, Cardiac muscle, Circulatory system, Cardiovascular system, Running, Marathon


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a devastating genetic muscular disorder of childhood marked by progressive debilitating muscle weakness and wasting, and ultimately death in the second or third decade of life. Wnt7a signaling through its receptor Fzd7 accelerates and augments regeneration by stimulating satellite stem cell expansion through the planar cell polarity pathway, as well as myofiber hypertrophy through the AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) anabolic pathway. We investigated the therapeutic potential of the secreted factor Wnt7a for focal treatment of dystrophic DMD muscles using the mdx mouse model, and found that Wnt7a treatment efficiently induced satellite cell expansion and myofiber hypertrophy in treated mucles in mdx mice. Importantly, Wnt7a treatment resulted in a significant increase in muscle strength, as determined by generation of specific force. Furthermore, Wnt7a reduced the level of contractile damage, likely by inducing a shift in fiber type toward slow-twitch. Finally, we found that Wnt7a similarly induced myotube hypertrophy and a shift in fiber type toward slow-twitch in human primary myotubes. Taken together, our findings suggest that Wnt7a is a promising candidate for development as an ameliorative treatment for DMD.

Concepts: Energy, Muscle, Cardiac muscle, Electromyography, Muscular system, Muscular dystrophy, Atrophy, Muscle spindle


There is a growing demand for in vitro assays for toxicity screening in three-dimensional (3D) environments. In this study, 3D cell culture using magnetic levitation was used to create an assay in which cells were patterned into 3D rings that close over time. The rate of closure was determined from time-lapse images taken with a mobile device and related to drug concentration. Rings of human embryonic kidney cells (HEK293) and tracheal smooth muscle cells (SMCs) were tested with ibuprofen and sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS). Ring closure correlated with the viability and migration of cells in two dimensions (2D). Images taken using a mobile device were similar in analysis to images taken with a microscope. Ring closure may serve as a promising label-free and quantitative assay for high-throughput in vivo toxicity in 3D cultures.

Concepts: Cardiac muscle, Cell culture, Urinary bladder, Actin, Computer graphics, Muscle contraction, Smooth muscle, HEK cell


In normal cardiac myocytes, the action potential duration (APD) is several hundred milliseconds. However, experimental studies showed that under certain conditions, APD could be excessively long (or ultralong), up to several seconds. Unlike the normal APD, the ultralong APD increases sensitively with pacing cycle length even when the pacing rate is very slow, exhibiting a sensitive slow rate-dependence. In addition, these long action potentials may or may not exhibit early afterdepolarizations (EADs). Although these phenomena are well known, the underlying mechanisms and ionic determinants remain incompletely understood. In this study, computer simulations were performed with a simplified action potential model. Modifications to the L-type calcium current (I(Ca,L)) kinetics and the activation time constant of the delayed rectifier K current were used to investigate their effects on APD. We show that: 1) the ultralong APD and its sensitive slow rate-dependence are determined by the steady-state window and pedestal I(Ca,L) currents and the activation speed and the recovery of the delayed rectifier K current; 2) whether an ultralong action potential exhibits EADs or not depends on the kinetics of I(Ca,L); 3) increasing inward currents elevates the plateau voltage, which in general prolongs APD, however, this can also shorten APD when the APD is already ultralong under certain conditions; and 4) APD alternans occurs at slow pacing rates due to the sensitive slow rate-dependence and the ionic determinants are different from the ones causing APD alternans at fast heart rates.

Concepts: Heart, Cardiac muscle, Action potential, Exhibition, Sinoatrial node, Reaction rate, Inward-rectifier potassium ion channel, Cardiac action potential


Nitric oxide (NO) and hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) play key roles in physiological and pathological responses in cardiac myocytes. The mechanisms whereby H(2)O(2)-modulated phosphorylation pathways regulate the endothelial isoform of nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) in these cells are incompletely understood. We show here that H(2)O(2) treatment of adult mouse cardiac myocytes leads to increases in intracellular Ca(2+) ([Ca(2+)](i)), and document that activity of the L-type Ca(2+) channel is necessary for the H(2)O(2)-promoted increase in sarcomere shortening and of [Ca(2+)](i). Using the chemical NO sensor Cu(2)(FL2E), we discovered that the H(2)O(2)-promoted increase in cardiac myocyte NO synthesis requires activation of the L-type Ca(2+) channel, as well as phosphorylation of the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), and mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase ½ (MEK1/2). Moreover, H(2)O(2)-stimulated phosphorylations of eNOS, AMPK, MEK1/2, and ERK1/2 all depend on both an increase in [Ca(2+)](i) as well as the activation of protein kinase C (PKC). We also found that H(2)O(2)-promoted cardiac myocyte eNOS translocation from peripheral membranes to internal sites is abrogated by the L-type Ca(2+) channel blocker nifedipine. We have previously shown that kinase Akt is also involved in H(2)O(2)-promoted eNOS phosphorylation. Here we present evidence documenting that H(2)O(2)-promoted Akt phosphorylation is dependent on activation of the L-type Ca(2+) channel, but is independent of PKC. These studies establish key roles for Ca(2+)- and PKC-dependent signaling pathways in the modulation of cardiac myocyte eNOS activation by H(2)O(2).

Concepts: Oxygen, Signal transduction, Heart, Cardiac muscle, Protein kinase, Nitric oxide, Protein kinases, Serine/threonine-specific protein kinase


Sarcopenia, or senile muscle atrophy, is the slow and progressive loss of muscle mass with advancing age that constitutes the most prevalent form of muscle atrophy. The effects of ageing on skeletal muscle have been extensively studied in humans and laboratory animals (mice), while the few reports on wild animals are based on short-lived mammals. The present study describes the age-related changes in cetacean muscles regarding the three factors that determine muscle mass: fibre size, fibre number, and fibre type. We show that the skeletal muscle fibres in cetaceans change with advancing age, evolving towards a slower muscle phenotype. We suggest that this physiological evolution constitutes an adaptation that allows these marine mammals to perform prolonged, deep dives.

Concepts: Muscle, Cardiac muscle, Glycogen, Muscle atrophy, Myosin, Muscular system, Acetylcholine, Atrophy