Heat shock proteins (Hsps) are molecular chaperones that aid in protein synthesis and trafficking and have been shown to protect cells/tissues from various protein damaging stressors. To determine the extent to which a single heat stress and the concurrent accumulation of Hsps influences the early events of skeletal muscle hypertrophy, Sprague-Dawley rats were heat stressed (42°C, 15 minutes) 24 hours prior to overloading 1 plantaris muscle by surgical removal of the gastrocnemius muscle. The contralateral plantaris muscles served as controls. Heat-stressed and/or overloaded plantaris muscles were assessed for muscle mass, total muscle protein, muscle protein concentration, Type I myosin heavy chain (Type I MHC) content, as well as Hsp72 and Hsp25 content over the course of 7 days following removal of the gastrocnemius muscle. As expected, in non–heat-stressed animals, muscle mass, total muscle protein and MHC I content were significantly increased (P < 0.05) following overload. In addition, Hsp25 and Hsp72 increased significantly after 2 and 3 days of overload, respectively. A prior heat stress–elevated Hsp25 content to levels similar to those measured following overload alone, but heat stress–induced Hsp72 content was increased significantly greater than was elicited by overload alone. Moreover, overloaded muscles from animals that experienced a prior heat stress showed a lower muscle mass increase at 5 and 7 days; a reduced total muscle protein elevation at 3, 5, and 7 days; reduced protein concentration; and a diminished Type I MHC content accumulation at 3, 5, and 7 days relative to non– heat-stressed animals. These data suggest that a prior heat stress and/or the consequent accumulation of Hsps may inhibit increases in muscle mass, total muscle protein content, and Type I MHC in muscles undergoing hypertrophy.
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