Deakin University
2 files

Effects of repeated local heat therapy on skeletal muscle structure and function in humans

Download all (3.2 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2020-01-01, 00:00 authored by K Kim, B A Reid, C A Casey, B E Bender, B Ro, Q Song, Adam Trewin, A C Petersen, S Kuang, T P Gavin, B T Roseguini
The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of repeated exposure to local heat therapy (HT) on skeletal muscle function, myofiber morphology, capillarization, and mitochondrial content in humans. Twelve young adults (23.6 ± 4.8 yr, body mass index 24.9 ± 3.0 kg/m2) had one randomly selected thigh treated with HT (garment perfused with water at ~52 C) for 8 consecutive weeks (90 min, 5 days/wk) while the opposite thigh served as a control. Biopsies were obtained from the vastus lateralis muscle before and after 4 and 8 wk of treatment. Knee extensor strength and fatigue resistance were also assessed using isokinetic dynamometry. The changes in peak isokinetic torque were higher (P = 0.007) in the thigh exposed to HT than in the control thigh at weeks 4 (control 4.2 ± 13.1 Nm vs. HT 9.1 ± 16.1 Nm) and 8 (control 1.8 ± 9.7 Nm vs. HT 7.8 ± 10.2 Nm). Exposure to HT averted a temporal decline in capillarization around type II fibers (P < 0.05), but had no effect on capillarization indexes in type I fibers. The content of endothelial nitric oxide synthase was ~18% and 35% higher in the thigh exposed to HT at 4 and 8 wk, respectively (P = 0.003). Similarly, HT increased the content of small heat shock proteins HSPB5 (P = 0.007) and HSPB1 (P = 0.009). There were no differences between thighs for the changes in fiber cross-sectional area and mitochondrial content. These results indicate that exposure to local HT for 8 wk promotes a proangiogenic environment and enhances muscle strength but does not affect mitochondrial content in humans. NEW & NOTEWORTHY We demonstrate that repeated application of heat therapy to the thigh with a garment perfused with warm water enhances the strength of knee extensors and influences muscle capillarization in parallel with increases in the content of endothelial nitric oxide synthase and small heat shock proteins. This practical method of passive heat stress may be a feasible tool to treat conditions associated with capillary rarefaction and muscle weakness.



Journal of Applied Physiology






483 - 492


American Physiological Society


Rockville, M.D.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2020, American Physiological Society