Impact of hot and cold exposure on human skeletal muscle gene expression

Roksana B. Zak, Robert J. Shute, Matthew W.S. Heesch, D. Taylor La Salle, Matthew P. Bubak, Nicholas E. Dinan, Terence L. Laursen, Dustin R. Slivka

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    22 Scopus citations


    Many human diseases lead to a loss of skeletal muscle metabolic function and mass. Local and environmental temperature can modulate the exercise-stimulated response of several genes involved in mitochondrial biogenesis and skeletal muscle function in a human model. However, the impact of environmental temperature, independent of exercise, has not been addressed in a human model. Thus, the purpose of this study was to compare the effects of exposure to hot, cold, and room temperature conditions on skeletal muscle gene expression related to mitochondrial biogenesis and muscle mass. Recreationally trained male subjects (n = 12) had muscle biopsies taken from the vastus lateralis before and after 3 h of exposure to hot (33 °C), cold (7 °C), or room temperature (20 °C) conditions. Temperature had no effect on most of the genes related to mitochondrial biogenesis, myogenesis, or proteolysis (p > 0.05). Core temperature was significantly higher in hot and cold environments compared with room temperature (37.2 ± 0.1 °C, p = 0.001; 37.1 ± 0.1 °C, p = 0.013; 36.9 ± 0.1 °C, respectively). Whole-body oxygen consumption was also significantly higher in hot and cold compared with room temperature (0.38 ± 0.01 L·min−1, p < 0.001; 0.52 ± 0.03 L·min−1, p < 0.001; 0.35 ± 0.01 L·min−1, respectively). In conclusion, these data show that acute temperature exposure alone does not elicit significant changes in skeletal muscle gene expression. When considered in conjunction with previous research, exercise appears to be a necessary component to observe gene expression alterations between different environmental temperatures in humans.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)319-325
    Number of pages7
    JournalApplied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - 2017


    • Mitochondrial biogenesis
    • Myogenesis
    • Proteolysis
    • Temperature
    • mRNA

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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