Human Skeletal Muscle mRNA Response to a Single Hypoxic Exercise Bout

Dustin R. Slivka, Matthew W.S. Heesch, Charles L. Dumke, John S. Cuddy, Walter S. Hailes, Brent C. Ruby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background The ability to physically perform at high altitude may require unique strategies to acclimatize before exposure. The effect of acute hypoxic exposure on the metabolic response of the skeletal muscle may provide insight into the value of short-term preacclimatization strategies. Objective To determine the human skeletal muscle response to a single acute bout of exercise in a hypoxic environment on metabolic gene expression. Methods Eleven recreationally active male participants (24 ± 4 years, 173 ± 20 cm, 82 ± 12 kg, 15.2 ± 7.1% fat, 4.0 ± 0.6 L/min maximal oxygen consumption) completed two 1-hour cycling exercise trials at 60% of peak power followed by 4 hours of recovery in ambient environmental conditions (975 m) and at normobaric hypoxic conditions simulating 3000 m in a randomized counterbalanced order. Muscle biopsies were obtained from the vastus lateralis before exercise and 4 hours after exercise for real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis of select metabolic genes. Results Gene expression of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha, cytochrome c oxidase subunit 4, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1 alpha, hexokinase, phosphofructokinase, mitochondrial fission 1, and mitofusin-2 increased with exercise (P <.05) but did not differ with hypoxic exposure (P >.05). Optic atrophy 1 did not increase with exercise or differ between environmental conditions (P >.05). Conclusions The improvements in mitochondrial function reported with intermittent hypoxic training may not be explained by a single acute hypoxic exposure, and thus it appears that a longer period of preacclimatization than a single exposure may be required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-465
Number of pages4
JournalWilderness and Environmental Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2014


  • HIF-1α
  • PGC-1α
  • altitude exposure
  • glycolytic enzymes
  • mRNA
  • mitochondria


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