Skeletal muscle can synthesize testosterone and 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) from dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) via steroidogenic enzymes in vitro, but hormone levels and steroidogenic enzyme expression decline with aging. Resistance exercise has been shown to increase in plasma sex steroid hormone levels. However, it remains unclear whether resistance training can restore impaired steroidogenic enzyme expressions in older individuals. Six young and 13 older men were recruited, and muscle biopsies were taken from the vastus lateralis at basal state. The same group of older subjects underwent resistance training involving knee extension and flexion exercises for 12 wk, and post-training biopsies were performed 4-5 d after the last exercise session. Muscular sex steroid hormone levels and sex steroidgenesis-related enzyme expressions were significantly lower in older subjects than younger ones at baseline, but 12 wk of resistance training significantly restored hormone levels (DHEA: 432±26 at baseline, 682±31 pg/μg protein, DHT: 6.2±0.9 at baseline, 9.8±1.4 pg/μg protein). Furthermore, the steroidogenesis-related enzymes such as 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD), 17β-HSD, and 5α-reductase expressions were significantly restored by resistance training. We conclude progressive resistance training restores age-related declines in sex steroidogenic enzyme and muscle sex steroid hormone levels in older men.-Sato, K., Iemitsu, M., Matsutani, K., Kurihara, T., Hamaoka, T., Fujita, S. Resistance training restores muscle sex steroid hormone steroidogenesis in older men.
Sex steroid hormones are secreted mainly by the ovary and testis and regulate diverse physiological processes in target tissues. Recent studies have shown that sex steroidogenesis-related mRNA and protein expressions, such as for 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD), 3β-HSD, 5α-reductase and aromatase cytochrome P-450 (P450arom) enzymes, are detected in the skeletal muscle, while testosterone, estradiol, and 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) were locally synthesized in skeletal muscle from dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Moreover, in animal and human studies, the sex steroidogenesis enzymes and sex steroid hormone levels in skeletal muscle are upregulated by acute and chronic exercise stimulation. The enhanced muscle sex steroidgenesis is associated with glycemic control via upregulation of muscle glucose transporter-4 (GLUT-4) signaling in obese and diabetic rats and with muscle mass and strength in older men. Thus, an exercise-induced increase of sex steroid hormone in muscle may positively impact age-related concerns such as life-related diseases and sarcopenia.
Endurance training improves skeletal muscular function including energy metabolism and structure. Sex steroid hormones partly contribute to the exercise-induced muscular adaptations. Recently, we demonstrated that skeletal muscle contains steroidogenic converting enzymes to synthesize sex steroid hormones and an acute endurance exercise activates local steroidogenesis in skeletal muscle. However, whether chronic endurance training leads to enhanced steroidogenesis in skeletal muscle is unknown. Here, we examined changes in steroidogenic enzymes and sex steroid hormones in the skeletal muscle after chronic endurance exercise training.
Eleven male rats were divided into two groups: sedentary (n = 6) and trained (n = 5). Endurance training was performed on a treadmill (30 m·min(-1), 30 min) for 5 d·wk(-1) for 12 wk. The posttraining harvesting was performed 48 h after the last exercise training.
The mRNA expressions of 3β-HSD, aromatase cytochrome P450, and 5α-reductase in the skeletal muscle of trained rats were significantly higher than those of sedentary rats (P < 0.05). The protein expressions of aromatase cytochrome P450 and 5α-reductase in the skeletal muscle of trained rats were also significantly higher than those of sedentary rats (P < 0.05). The muscular dihydrotestosterone (DHT) concentrations in the skeletal muscle of trained rats were significantly higher than those of sedentary rats (P < 0.01), but there was no change in dehydroepiandrosterone, total testosterone, free testosterone, and estradiol. Furthermore, muscle weight corrected for body weight of trained rats was moderately correlated with the level of muscular DHT concentration in trained rats (r = 0.41, P < 0.05).
Endurance exercise training enhances the muscular DHT concentration through 5α-reductase in the skeletal muscle of rats, suggesting that local bioactive androgen metabolism may participate in exercise training-induced skeletal muscular adaptation.