Korean J Physiol Pharmacol.  2018 Jul;22(4):427-436. 10.4196/kjpp.2018.22.4.427.

Concurrent treatment with ursolic acid and low-intensity treadmill exercise improves muscle atrophy and related outcomes in rats

  • 1Department of Sports Science, College of Natural Science, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju 54896, Korea. sh5275@jbnu.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Physiology, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease Center, Inje University, Busan 47392, Korea.
  • 3Department of Leisure Sport, Kyungpook National University, Sangju 37224, Korea. prescript@knu.ac.kr


The objective of this study was to analyze the concurrent treatment effects of ursolic acid (UA) and low-intensity treadmill exercise and to confirm the effectiveness of UA as an exercise mimetic to safely improve muscle atrophy-related diseases using Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats with skeletal muscle atrophy. Significant muscle atrophy was induced in male SD rats through hind limb immobilization using casting for 10 days. The muscle atrophy-induced SD rats were group into four: SED, sedentary; UA, daily intraperitoneal UA injection, 5 mg/kg; EX, low-intensity (10–12 m/min, 0° grade) treadmill exercise; and UEX, daily intraperitoneal UA injection, 5 mg/kg, and low-intensity (10–12 m/min, 0° grade) treadmill exercise. After 8 weeks of treatment, endurance capacity was analyzed using a treadmill, and tissues were extracted for analysis of visceral fat mass, body weight, muscle mass, expression of muscle atrophy- and hypertrophy-related genes, and endurance capacity. Although the effects of body weight gain control, muscle mass increase, and endurance capacity improvement were inadequate in the UA group, significant results were confirmed in the UEX group. The UEX group had significantly reduced body weight and visceral fat, significantly improved mass of tibialis anterior and gastrocnemius muscles, and significantly decreased atrophy-related gene expression of MuRF1 and atrogin-1, but did not have significant change in hypertrophy-related gene expression of Akt and mTOR. The endurance capacity was significantly improved in the EX and UEX groups. These data suggest that concurrent treatment with low-intensity exercise and UA is effective for atrophy-related physical dysfunctions.


Aging; Exercise; Muscle atrophy; Ursolic acid
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