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Medicina dello Sport 2000 September;53(3):223-30


language: Italian

Cellular-matrix interactions in the skeletal muscle: state of the art

Magaudda L., Di Mauro D., Messina L.

Dipartimento di Biomorfologia, Scuola di Specializzazione in Medicina dello Sport, Università degli Studi, Messina


The individual’s genetic make-up plays an essential role in his attainment of top level performance in any sport. Physical exercise may modify the genetic regulation of the musculature, influencing both phenotype and muscle mass to adjust the quantity and type of contractile protein, as well as mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolic activity as the work load is increased and differentiated. It is, however, difficult to identify the mechanisms that underlie the muscles’ specific adaptation to training, though some of the stimuli that may induce and maintain such adaptations are well known (neural and hormonal, autocrine and paracrine factors, growth factors, intermediate metabolite flows, etc.). It has also recently been suggested that the mechanical forces brought into play by exercise may have a direct influence on the nuclear function of the muscle fibres by activating appropriate membrane receptors that are closely linked to the extra-cellular matrix (ECM) that surrounds each individual fibre. Physical exercise and especially work overload have a fundamental effect on the moulding of the musculature. The information generating this phenomenon, apart from the well-known neural and chemical signalling pathways, may be delivered directly by the mechanical forces from the tendon tissue to the intricate connective tissue scaffolding of the muscle right down to the microscopic interstices between the fibres. There, the extracellular matrix interacting via the proteins of the basal lamina using a sophisticated system of sarcolemma receptors (Integrine and DGC) not only organises the spatial orientation of the cellular structure of the muscle fibres, but also activates a series of intracellular biochemical cascades. These have the ability to influence the genetic function of the muscle fibres, modifying their structure and metabolism and promoting the release of growth factors and other signalling molecules like nitric oxide which, in their turn, work through the paracrine system to activate the satellite cells. The further investigation of these mechanisms and the intracellular signalling pathways that not only modify the muscle fibre phenotype but also exert a profound influence on the metabolism of the entire organism surely represents an important field for basic research in the field of Sports Medicine, targeted not only at improving athletic performance, but also at the prevention and treatment of major metabolic disorders by laying the foundations for the correct management of motor activity.

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