Mitigating Disuse Bone Loss: Role of Resistance Exercise and Beta-Adrenergic Signaling



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Mechanical loading is an integral component to maintaining bone mass during periods of disuse (i.e. bedrest or casting) or reduced weightbearing activity. Recent data has shown a direct relation between the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and bone metabolism, however the underlying mechanisms responsible for this relationship are unknown. Furthermore, the role that beta adrenergic stimulation during disuse has on cancellous bone mass and microarchitecture have yet to be defined. The central hypothesis of this research is that resistance exercise and beta-1 adrenergic (Adrb1) receptor agonist administration attenuate disuse-associated reductions in metaphyseal bone during 28 days of rodent hindlimb unloading (HU). Study one determined whether an eccentric- (ECC) or combined isometric+eccentric- (ISO+ECC) based contraction paradigm, engaged during hindlimb unloading (HU), mitigates losses in musculoskeletal mass and strength. Both simulated resistance training (SRT) protocols inhibited reductions in disuse-sensitive cancellous bone mass and maintained plantarflexor muscle strength. Study two determined whether combining the anabolic effects of SRT with the anti-resorptive effects of alendronate (ALEN) during HU positively impacts cancellous bone in an additive or synergistic fashion. ALEN significantly inhibited the anabolic response of cancellous bone to SRT during HU. Study three determined whether an Adrb1 receptor agonist (dobutamine; DOB) mitigates disuse-associated losses in bone mass and formation rate (BFR) during HU. DOB administration significantly blunted reductions in bone mineral density (vBMD) by maintaining cancellous BFR. Study four determined if Adrb1 receptor agonist administration during HU results in an attenuation of osteocyte apoptosis within cancellous bone and whether this relates to a decrease in Bax/Bcl-2 mRNA content ratio (pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins). HU significantly increased cancellous bone osteocyte apoptosis and Bax/Bcl-2 mRNA content ratio, which was reduced by the administration of DOB. Collectively, these are the first studies to assess the role of beta-1 adrenergic signaling and resistance exercise in mitigating disuse-induced loss of cancellous bone mass in rodents. The long term goals of this research are to understand the exact molecular mechanisms by which both Adrb1 signaling and high intensity resistance exercise provide beneficial bone effects during prolonged periods of disuse and to apply these findings to current osteoporosis research.