Aim: Exercise is cardioprotective, though optimal interventions are unclear. We assessed duration dependent effects of exercise on myocardial ischemia-reperfusion (I-R) injury, kinase signaling and gene expression.
Methods: Responses to brief (2 day; 2EX), intermediate (7 and 14 day; 7EX and 14EX) and extended (28 day; 28EX) voluntary wheel running (VWR) were studied in male C57Bl/6 mice. Cardiac function, I-R tolerance and survival kinase signaling were assessed in perfused hearts.
Key findings: Mice progressively increased running distances and intensity, from 2.4 ± 0.2 km/day (0.55 ± 0.04 m/s) at 2-days to 10.6 ± 0.4 km/day (0.72 ± 0.06 m/s) after 28-days. Myocardial mass and contractility were modified at 14-28 days VWR. Cardioprotection was not 'dose-dependent', with I-R tolerance enhanced within 7 days and not further improved with greater VWR duration, volume or intensity. Protection was associated with AKT, ERK1/2 and GSK3β phosphorylation, with phospho-AMPK selectively enhanced with brief VWR. Gene expression was duration-dependent: 7 day VWR up-regulated glycolytic (Pfkm) and down-regulated maladaptive remodeling (Mmp2) genes; 28 day VWR up-regulated caveolar (Cav3), mitochondrial biogenesis (Ppargc1a, Sirt3) and titin (Ttn) genes. Interestingly, I-R tolerance in 2EX/2SED groups improved vs. groups subjected to longer sedentariness, suggesting transient protection on transition to housing with running wheels.
Significance: Cardioprotection is induced with as little as 7 days VWR, yet not enhanced with further or faster running. This protection is linked to survival kinase phospho-regulation (particularly AKT and ERK1/2), with glycolytic, mitochondrial, caveolar and myofibrillar gene changes potentially contributing. Intriguingly, environmental enrichment may also protect via similar kinase regulation.