Cellular adaptation to repeated eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage Academic Article uri icon


  • Eccentrically biased exercise results in skeletal muscle damage and stimulates adaptations in muscle, whereby indexes of damage are attenuated when the exercise is repeated. We hypothesized that changes in ultrastructural damage, inflammatory cell infiltration, and markers of proteolysis in skeletal muscle would come about as a result of repeated eccentric exercise and that gender may affect this adaptive response. Untrained male ( n = 8) and female ( n = 8) subjects performed two bouts ( bout 1and bout 2), separated by 5.5 wk, of 36 repetitions of unilateral, eccentric leg press and 100 repetitions of unilateral, eccentric knee extension exercises (at 120% of their concentric single repetition maximum), the subjects' contralateral nonexercised leg served as a control (rest). Biopsies were taken from the vastus lateralis from each leg 24 h postexercise. After bout 2, the postexercise force deficit and the rise in serum creatine kinase (CK) activity were attenuated. Women had lower serum CK activity compared with men at all times ( P < 0.05), but there were no gender differences in the relative magnitude of the force deficit. Muscle Z-disk streaming, quantified by using light microscopy, was elevated vs. rest only after bout 1 ( P< 0.05), with no gender difference. Muscle neutrophil counts were significantly greater in women 24 h after bout 2 vs. rest and bout 1 ( P < 0.05) but were unchanged in men. Muscle macrophages were elevated in men and women after bout 1 and bout 2 ( P < 0.05). Muscle protein content of the regulatory calpain subunit remained unchanged whereas ubiquitin-conjugated protein content was increased after both bouts ( P < 0.05), with a greater increase after bout 2. We conclude that adaptations to eccentric exercise are associated with attenuated serum CK activity and, potentially, an increase in the activity of the ubiquitin proteosome proteolytic pathway.


  • Stupka, N
  • Tarnopolsky, MA
  • Yardley, NJ
  • Phillips, SM

publication date

  • October 1, 2001