Abstract

Optimization of resistance exercise (RE) remains a hotbed of research for muscle building and maintenance. However, the interactions between the contractile components of RE (i.e. concentric (CON) and eccentric (ECC)) and age, are poorly defined. We used transcriptomics to compare age-related molecular responses to acute CON and ECC exercise. Eight young (21±1 y) and eight older (70±1 y) exercise-naïve male volunteers had vastus lateralis biopsies collected at baseline and 5 h post unilateral CON and contralateral ECC exercise. RNA was subjected to next-generation sequencing and differentially expressed (DE) genes tested for pathway enrichment using Gene Ontology (GO). The young transcriptional response to CON and ECC was highly similar and older adults displayed moderate contraction-specific profiles, with no GO enrichment. Age-specific responses to ECC revealed 104 DE genes unique to young, and 170 DE genes in older muscle, with no GO enrichment. Following CON, 15 DE genes were young muscle-specific, whereas older muscle uniquely expressed 147 up-regulated genes enriched for cell adhesion and blood vessel development, and 28 down-regulated genes involved in mitochondrial respiration, amino acid and lipid metabolism. Thus, older age is associated with contraction-specific regulation often without clear functional relevance, perhaps reflecting a degree of stochastic age-related dysregulation.