Age-related differences in effect of exercise training on cardiac muscle function in rats

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology




1 (20/1)




To test the hypothesis that age may alter the effect of exercise training on myocardial function, we trained young adult (4-5 mo at study initiation) and old (21 mo at initiation) male Fischer 344 rats to run on a rodent treadmill 5 days/wk for 4.5 mo and compared their myocardial function with that of age-matched sedentary controls. Right ventricular papillary muscles were isolated from the young adult and aged animals and stimulated at the length at which developed isometric tension was maximal to contract isometrically at 12/min, bathed in oxygenated modified Krebs solution, and studied at 28°, 32°, 35°, and 38°C. In the absence of cardiac hypertrophy, exercise training significantly reversed the age-related prolongation of isometric contraction duration in the senescent rat (P<0.001). However, exercise training prolonged contraction duration in the young adult rat (P<0.05). The relaxation phase was more sensitive than the contraction phase to changes in temperature, especially in the aged rat (P<0.02). The ratio of developed tension to time-to-peak tension of the isometric twitch was not affected by exercise training. Because exercise training affects cardiac function in opposite directions from young adulthood to senescence, caution is advised in extrapolating results from exercise studies in young adult rats to populations of older animals.

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