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Voluntary Exercise Decreases Progression Of Muscular Dystrophy In Diaphragm Of Mdx Mice

E. E. Dupont-Versteegden, R. J. McCarter, M. S. Katz

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Effects of voluntary wheel running on contractile properties of diaphragm (DIA) and soleus (SOL) of dystrophic (mdx) and control (C57BL/10SNJ) mice were evaluated. In particular, we tested the hypothesis that daily voluntary running is not deleterious to muscle function in mdx mice. Both groups of mice ran extensively (control mice approximately 7 km/day, mdx mice approximately 5 km/day). Exercise increased maximal specific tetanus tension of mdx DIA from 1.02 +/- 0.04 to 1.33 +/- 0.06 kg/cm2 but did not restore it to the control level (2.55 +/- 0.17 kg/cm2). Maximal tetanus tension of sedentary mdx SOL (2.41 +/- 0.17 kg/cm2) was reduced compared with control (3.10 +/- 0.15 kg/cm2) and was not altered by running activity. Optimal length was significantly lower in DIA of mdx mice, and exercise did not change this. Fatigability and contractile properties of muscles measured in vitro were not altered by running activity with the exception of increased contraction time in mdx DIA. In conclusion, extensive wheel running is not deleterious to muscle function in mdx mice contrary to predictions of the “work overload” theory of muscular dystrophy. Rather, this exercise is beneficial for active tension generation of mdx DIA, the muscle most closely resembling muscles of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.