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Effects of ursolic acid on muscle mass and bone microstructure in rats with casting-induced muscle atrophy

Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry 2019년 23권 3호 p.45 ~ 49
 ( Kang Yun-Seok ) - Chonbuk National University Department of Sports Science

 ( Noh Eun-Bi ) - Chonbuk National University Department of Sports Science
 ( Kim Sang-Hyun ) - Chonbuk National University Department of Sports Science


Purpose: Recent studies suggest that ursolic acid (UA) is a potential candidate for a resistance exercise mimetic that can increase muscle mass and alleviate the deleterious effect of skeletal muscle atrophy on bone health. However, these studies evaluated the effects of UA on skeletal muscle and bone tissues, and they have not verified whether such effect could occur concurrently on muscle and bone, as is the case with resistance exercise. Thus, the aim of this study was to analyze the effect of UA injection on muscle mass and bone microstructure using an animal model of atrophy to demonstrate the potential of UA as a resistance exercise mimetic.

Methods: The immobilization (IM) method was used on the left hindlimb of Sprague Dawley (SD) rats for 10 days to induce muscle atrophy, whereas the right hindlimb was used as an internal control (IC). The animal models were divided into two groups, SED (sedentary, n=6) and UA (n=6) to demonstrate the effect of UA on atrophic skeletal muscles. The UA group received a daily intraperitoneal injection of UA (5 mg/kg/day) for 8 weeks. After 10 days of IM, the data collected for the IC were compared with that of IM to determine whether muscle atrophy might occur.

Results: Muscle atrophy was induced and bone mineral density (BMD) decreased significantly. The 8-week UA treatment significantly increased the gastrocnemius muscle mass compared to the SED group. In regard to the effect of UA on bones, negative results such as a decrease in BMD, trabecular bone volume fraction, and trabecular number, and an increase in trabecular separation, were observed in the SED group, but no such difference was observed in the UA group. No significant difference was observed in atrophic hindlimbs between SED and UA groups.

Conclusion: These results alone are insufficient to suggest that UA is a potential resistance exercise mimetic for atrophic skeletal muscle and weakened bone. However, this study will help determine the potential of UA as a resistance exercise mimetic.


ursolic acid; skeletal muscle; bone mineral density; bone microstructure; exercise mimetics
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