Effect of local cold application during exercise on gene expression related to mitochondrial homeostasis

Ben Meister, Chris Collins, Mark McGlynn, Dustin Slivka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Exercise training increases mitochondrial content in active skeletal muscle. Previous work suggests that mitochondrial-related genes respond favorably to exercise in cold environments. However, the impact of localized tissue cooling is unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of local muscle cooling during endurance exercise on human skeletal muscle mitochondrial-related gene expression. Twelve subjects (age, 28 ± 6 years) cycled at 65% peak power output. One leg was cooled (C) for 30 min before and during exercise with a thermal wrap while the other leg was wrapped but not cooled, room temperature (RT). Muscle biopsies were taken from each vastus lateralis before and 4 h after exercise for the analysis of gene expression. Muscle temperature was lower in the C (29.260.7 °C) than the RT (34.160.3 °C) condition after pre-cooling for 30 min before exercise (p < 0.001) and remained lower after exercise in the C (36.960.5) than the RT (38.460.2, p < 0.001) condition. PGC-1a and NRF1 mRNA expression were lower in the C (p = 0.012 and p = 0.045, respectively) than the RT condition at 4 h after exercise. There were no temperature-related differences in other genes (p > 0.05). These data suggest that local cooling has an inhibitory effect on exercise-induced PGC-1a and NRF1 expression in human skeletal muscle. Those considering using local cooling during exercise should consider other systemic cooling options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)318-324
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • Cycling
  • Endurance exercise
  • MRNA
  • Mitochondria
  • PGC-1a
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)


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