Research Article: Cellular Stress Response Gene Expression During Upper and Lower Body High Intensity Exercises

Date Published: January 31, 2017

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Andrzej Kochanowicz, Stanisław Sawczyn, Bartłomiej Niespodziński, Jan Mieszkowski, Kazimierz Kochanowicz, Małgorzata Żychowska, Andrea Martinuzzi.


The aim was to compare the effect of upper and lower body high-intensity exercise on chosen genes expression in athletes and non-athletes.

Fourteen elite male artistic gymnasts (EAG) aged 20.6 ± 3.3 years and 14 physically active men (PAM) aged 19.9 ± 1.0 years performed lower and upper body 30 s Wingate Tests. Blood samples were collected before, 5 and 30 minutes after each effort to assess gene expression via PCR.

Significantly higher mechanical parameters after lower body exercise was observed in both groups, for relative power (8.7 ± 1.2 W/kg in gymnasts, 7.2 ± 1.2 W/kg in controls, p = 0.01) and mean power (6.7 ± 0.7 W/kg in gymnasts, 5.4 ± 0.8 W/kg in controls, p = 0.01). No differences in lower versus upper body gene expression were detected for all tested genes as well as between gymnasts and physical active man. For IL-6 m-RNA time-dependent effect was observed.

Because of no significant differences in expression of genes associated with cellular stress response the similar adaptive effect to exercise may be obtained so by lower and upper body exercise.

Partial Text

High intensity exercise causes metabolic changes on many levels of human body altering the production of interleukins and heat shock protein [1–3], the availability of substrates, activation of metabolic enzymes [4], and others. All these changes start at the level of gene transcription. It is now understood that changes in genes expression caused by exercises occur primarily in genes associates with apoptosis and inflammation [1]. Considerable evidence demonstrates the influence of various types of exercise on inflammation [5, 6] and the expression of genes encoding heat shock protein [7, 8], thereby mediating the health benefits of episodic and prolonged exercise. The health promoting effects of exercise are associated with production of interleukins, elicited anti-inflammatory response trough inflammation [1], and increased stress tolerance.

Characteristics of lower and upper body Wingate Anaerobic Test (WAnT) assessments for all participants are summarized in Table 3 (individual data can be found in Table B in S1 File).

To our knowledge this is the first study in which lower and upper body high intensity exercise is analyzed on the transcript level. We hypothesized that WAnT results would be higher after lower body exercise for all indicators. This hypothesis was correct, all indicators were on higher after lower body exercise (Cohen’s d strong for all measures and groups, Table 3). Compared to physical active men untrained in gymnastics, the athletes had significantly greater relative peak and mean power in the upper body during WAnT assessment, indicating specific adaptation of anaerobic capabilities. People in control group were significantly taller and heavier than our gymnast, but BMI was the same in both groups, which reduced the differences during WAnTs. Relatively fewer exercises engage the lower body as they are mainly utilized in short, explosive efforts. This may help to explain the lack of differences in relative peak and mean power between EAG and PAM observed in the lower limb WAnT. However, it is difficult to unequivocally state that the results observed in the EAG studied here are typical for this group of athletes. For example, in a study of anaerobic capabilities in elite French gymnasts, [32] showed that relative peak (13.4 ± 1.3 W/kg) and mean power (9.6 ± 1.0 W/kg) were higher in the lower body than in the upper body. Similar higher relative peak results (11.7 ± 1.2 W/kg) were also observed in elite Greek gymnasts, although this difference was less pronounced in comparison to the difference presented here [23]. In contrast, anaerobic capabilities of the upper body in EAG appeared similar to those described in the previously mentioned international French gymnasts [32] (relative peak power: 9.2 ± 1.1 W/kg; relative mean power: 6.6 ± 0.6 W/kg) as well as to athletes training in judo [33] and wrestling [34].




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