Iron injections in mice increase skeletal muscle iron content, induce oxidative stress and reduce exercise performance.

Reardon TF, Allen DG..

School of Medical Sciences, Bosch Institute, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

Exp Physiol. 2009 Jun;94(6):720-30. Epub 2009 Feb 6

Iron accelerates the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Excessive levels of ROS are thought to accelerate skeletal muscle fatigue and contribute to the loss of skeletal muscle mass and function with age. Patients with an iron overload disease frequently report symptoms of weakness and fatigue, which is attributed to reduced cardiac function. The contribution of skeletal muscle to these symptoms is unknown. Using a mouse model of iron overload, we determined the extent of iron accumulation in skeletal muscle and the concentrations of the iron storage protein ferritin. The level of oxidative stress, changes in antioxidant enzymes and exercise performance were also assessed. Compared with control mice, the iron overloaded mice had elevated levels of iron in the tibialis anterior muscle and a fourfold increase in ferritin light chain. The oxidative stress product malondialdehyde was increased in the iron group compared with the control group, as was the antioxidant enzyme activity of glutathione reductase and glutathione peroxidase. The iron group performed less work on an endurance test and produced less force in a strength test. Body weight and skeletal muscle weight were lower in the iron group following the intervention. Iron loading reduced the weight of the fast-twitch extensor digitorum longus muscle more than the slow-twitch soleus muscle. In summary, iron accumulation in skeletal muscle may play a significant role in the reduced exercise capacity seen in iron overload disorders and in ageing, and may play an underlying role in skeletal muscle atrophy.

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