Functional and biochemical responses of skeletal muscle following a moderate degree of systemic iron loading in mice

Chen Liang, Marisa C. Mickey, Candace N. Receno, Mustafa Atalay, Keith C Deruisseau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Excessive iron loading may cause skeletal muscle atrophy and weakness because of its free radical generating properties. To determine whether a clinically relevant degree of iron loading impairs skeletal muscle function, young male mice received injections of iron dextran (4 mg iron/200 µl) or 2 mM d-glucose (control) 5 days/week for 2 weeks ( n = 10/group). Systemic iron loading induced an approximate fourfold increase in the skeletal muscle nonheme iron concentration. Soleus specific tension (1, 30-250 Hz) was lower among iron-loaded animals compared with controls despite similar body mass and muscle mass. Soleus lipid peroxidation (4-hydroxynonenal adducts) and protein oxidation (protein carbonyls) levels were similar between groups. In gastrocnemius muscle, reduced glutathione (GSH) and glutathione peroxidase activity were similar but glutathione disulfide (GSSG) and the GSSG/GSH ratio were greater in iron-loaded muscle. A greater protein expression level of endogenous thiol antioxidant thioredoxin (TRX) was observed among iron-loaded muscle whereas its endogenous inhibitor thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNip) and the TRX/TXNip ratio were similar. Glutaredoxin2, a thiol-disulfide oxidoreductase activated by GSSG-induced destabilization of its iron-sulfur [2Fe-2S] cluster, was lower following iron loading. Additionally, protein levels of α-actinin and αII-spectrin at 240 kDa were lower in the iron-loaded group. Ryanodine receptor stabilizing subunit calstabin1 was also lower following iron loading. In summary, the contractile dysfunction that resulted from moderate iron loading may be mediated by a disturbance in the muscle redox balance and from changes arising from an increased proteolytic response and aberrant sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Although severe iron loading is known to cause muscle oxidative stress and dysfunction, the effects of a moderate degree of systemic iron loading on muscle contractile function and biochemical responses remain unclear. This study demonstrates that a pathophysiological elevation in the skeletal muscle iron load leads to force deficits that coincide with impaired redox status, structural integrity, and lower ryanodine receptor-associated calstabin1 in the absence of muscle mass changes or oxidative damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-809
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019



  • glutathione
  • nonheme iron
  • oxidative stress
  • proteolysis
  • thioredoxin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

Cite this