One Week of Bed Rest Leads to Substantial Muscle Atrophy and Induces Whole-Body Insulin Resistance in the Absence of Skeletal Muscle Lipid Accumulation

Marlou L. Dirks, Benjamin T. Wall, Bas van de Valk, Tanya M. Holloway, Graham P. Holloway, Adrian Chabowski, Gijs H. Goossens, Lucas van Loon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

211 Citations (Web of Science)


Short (<10 days) periods of muscle disuse, often necessary for recovery from illness or injury, lead to various negative health consequences. The current study investigated mechanisms underlying disuse-induced insulin resistance, taking into account muscle atrophy. Ten healthy, young males (age: 23 +/- 1 years; BMI: 23.0 +/- 0.9 kg . m(-2)) were subjected to 1 week of strict bed rest. Prior to and after bed rest, lean body mass (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) and quadriceps cross-sectional area (CSA; computed tomography) were assessed, and peak oxygen uptake (VO(2)peak) and leg strength were determined. Whole-body insulin sensitivity was measured using a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp. Additionally, muscle biopsies were collected to assess muscle lipid (fraction) content and various markers of mitochondrial and vascular content. Bed rest resulted in 1.4 +/- 0.2 kg lean tissue loss and a 3.2 +/- 0.9% decline in quadriceps CSA (both P <0.01). VO(2)peak and one-repetition maximum declined by 6.4 +/- 2.3 (P <0.05) and 6.9 +/- 1.4% (P <0.01), respectively. Bed rest induced a 29 +/- 5% decrease in whole-body insulin sensitivity (P <0.01). This was accompanied by a decline in muscle oxidative capacity, without alterations in skeletal muscle lipid content or saturation level, markers of oxidative stress, or capillary density. In conclusion, 1 week of bed rest substantially reduces skeletal muscle mass and lowers whole-body insulin sensitivity, without affecting mechanisms implicated in high-fat diet-induced insulin resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2862-2875
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016

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