Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Sport makes muscles and nerves fit


Endurance sport does not only change the condition and fitness of muscles but also simultaneously improves the neuronal connections to the muscle fibers based on a muscle-induced feedback.

This link has been discovered by a research group at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel. The group was also able to induce the same effect through raising the protein concentration of PGC1α in the muscle. Their findings, which are also interesting in regard to muscle and nerve disorders such as muscle wasting and ALS, have been published in the current issue of the journal Nature Communications.

Neuromuscular junction: The motor neuron (red) is connected to the synaptic endplate on the muscle fiber (green).

Illustration: University of Basel, Biozentrum

It’s springtime – the start signal for all joggers. It is well known that a regular run through the forest makes your muscles fit. Responsible for this effect is the protein PGC1α, which plays a central role in the adaptation of muscles to training. The research team led by Prof. Christoph Handschin has discovered that such endurance training not only affects the condition of the muscles but also the upstream synaptic neuronal connections in a muscle-dependent manner.

PGC1α does not only make muscles fit

How do muscles change during muscle training or in muscle disease? Christoph Handschin and his team have been addressing this question for some years. In the past, they have already shown that the protein PGC1α plays a key role in the adaptation of the muscle by regulating the genes that cause the muscles to change accordingly to meet the more demanding requirements. When muscle is inactive or ill, only a low concentration of PGC1α is present. However, when the muscle is challenged, the PGC1α level increases. Through artificial elevation of the PGC1α concentration, it is possible to stimulate muscle endurance.

… but also the nerve connections

Now, the scientists have been able to demonstrate that the increase in muscle PGC1α concentration also improves the upstream synaptic nerve connections to the result of this feedback from muscle to the motor neuron: The health of the synapse improves and its activation pattern adapts to meet the requirements of the muscle. Until now, the influence of the muscle on the synaptic connection was primarily recognized in embryonic development. “That in adults, where the nerve and muscular systems are fully developed, not only the muscle changes due to an increase in PGC1α concentration but also a muscle-controlled improvement in the entire nerve and muscular system takes place, was completely unexpected and a great surprise to us”, says Handschin. “Our current aim is to identify the exact signal that leads to this stabilization of the synaptic connections, in order to apply this for treating muscle disorders.”

… and helps in the treatment of muscle and nerve disorders

A direct therapeutic application of the research findings in illnesses such as muscle wasting and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is already conceivable for Christoph Handschin. “In patients, whose muscles due to their illness are too weak to move on their own, an increase in PGC1α levels could strengthen muscles and nerves until the patients can move enough to finally do some physical therapy and to further improve their mobility”, he explains. After the pharmacological improvement of the health status of the muscles and nerves, the patient could independently continue their treatment through practicing endurance sports.

Original Citation
Anne-Sophie Arnold, Jonathan Gill, Martine Christe, Rocío Ruiz, Shawn McGuirk, Julie St-Pierre, Lucía Tabares & Christoph Handschin
Morphological and functional remodelling of the neuromuscular junction by skeletal muscle PGC-1α
Nature Communications, published 1 April 2014 | doi:10.1038/ncomms4569

Further Information
Prof. Christoph Handschin, University of Basel, Biozentrum, phone +41 61 267 23 78, email:

Weitere Informationen: - Abstract - Research Group Prof. Christoph Handschin >

Heike Sacher | Universität Basel

Further reports about: Biozentrum concentration connections disorders muscular nerves role wasting

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Strong, steady forces at work during cell division
20.10.2016 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

nachricht Disturbance wanted
20.10.2016 | Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>