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Lipids in Health and Disease


Background: Dietary fish oil (DFO) has been identified as a micronutrient supplement with the potential to improve musculoskeletal health in old age. Few data are available for effects of DFO on muscle contractility, despite the significant negative impact of muscle weakness on age-related health outcomes. Accordingly, the effects of a DFO intervention on the contractile function and proteomic profile of adult and aged in an animal model of aging were investigated.

Methods: This preliminary study evaluated 14 adult (8 months) and 12 aged (22 months) male, Sprague-Dawley rats consuming a DFO-supplemented diet or a control diet for 8 weeks (7 adult and 6 aged/dietary group). Animal weight, food intake and grip strength were assessed at the start and end of the FO intervention. In situ force and contractile properties were measured in the medial gastrocnemius muscle following the intervention and muscles were processed for 2-D gel electrophoresis and proteomic analysis via liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry, confirmed by immunoblotting. Effects of age, diet and age x diet interaction were evaluated by 2- way ANOVA.

Results: A significant (P = 0.022) main effect for DFO to increase (~ 15%) muscle contractile force was observed, without changes in muscle mass. Proteomic analysis revealed a small number of proteins that differed across age and dietary groups at least 2-fold, most of which related to metabolism and oxidative stress. In seven of these proteins (creatine kinase, triosephosphate isomerase, pyruvate kinase, parvalbumin, beta-enolase, NADH dehydrogenase and Parkin7/DJ1), immunoblotting corroborated these findings. Parvalbumin showed only an effect of diet (increased with DFO) (P = 0.003). Significant age x diet interactions were observed in the other proteins, generally demonstrating increased expression in adult and decreased expression aged rats consuming DFO (all P > 0.011). However, correlational analyses revealed no significant associations between contractile parameters and protein abundances.

Conclusions: Results of this preliminary study support the hypothesis that DFO can enhance musculoskeletal health in adult and aged muscles, given the observed improvement in contractile function. The fish oil supplement also alters protein expression in an age-specific manner, but the relationship between proteomic and contractile responses remains unclear. Further investigation to better understand the magnitude and mechanisms muscular effects of DFO in aged populations is warranted.


Skeletal muscle, Sarcopenia, Proteomics, Diet, Omega-3, Aging






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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


© The Author(s). 2020 Open Access


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