Obesity affects the major metabolic and cellular processes involved in skeletal muscle contractility. Surprisingly, the effect of obesity on isolated skeletal muscle performance remains unresolved. The present study is the first to examine the muscle-specific changes in contractility following dietary-induced obesity using an isolated muscle work-loop (WL) model that more closely represents in vivo muscle performance. Following 16-wk high-calorific feeding, soleus (SOL), extensor digitorum longus (EDL), and diaphragm (DIA) were isolated from female (CD-1) mice, and contractile performance was compared against a lean control group. Obese SOL produced greater isometric force; however, isometric stress (force per unit muscle area), absolute WL power, and normalized WL power (watts per kilogram muscle mass) were unaffected. Maximal isometric force and absolute WL power of the EDL were similar between groups. For both EDL and DIA, isometric stress and normalized WL power were reduced in the obese groups. Obesity caused a significant reduction in fatigue resistance in all cases. Our findings demonstrate a muscle-specific reduction in contractile performance and muscle quality that is likely related to in vivo mechanical role, fiber type, and metabolic profile, which may in part be related to changes in myosin heavy chain expression and AMP-activated protein kinase activity. These results infer that, beyond the additional requirement of moving a larger body mass, functional performance and quality of life may be further limited by poor muscle function in obese individuals. As such, a reduction in muscle performance may be a substantial contributor to the negative cycle of obesity.
NEW & NOTEWORTHY The effect of obesity on isolated muscle function is surprisingly underresearched. The present study is the first to examine the effects of obesity on isolated muscle performance using a method that more closely represents real-world muscle function. This work uniquely establishes a muscle-specific profile of mechanical changes in relation to underpinning mechanisms. These findings may be important to understanding the negative cycle of obesity and in designing interventions for improving weight status.
- muscle quality
- muscular lipid, lipid accumulation
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