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Expression and Function of Myostatin in Obesity, Diabetes, and Exercise Adaptation


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: October 2011 - Volume 43 - Issue 10 - p 1828-1835
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182178bb4
Basic Sciences

Myostatin is a member of the transforming growth factor-β/bone morphogenetic protein (TGF-β/BMP) superfamily of secreted factors that functions as a potent inhibitor of skeletal muscle growth. Moreover, considerable evidence has accumulated that myostatin also regulates metabolism and that its inhibition can significantly attenuate the progression of obesity and diabetes. Although at least part of these effects on metabolism can be attributable to myostatin's influence over skeletal muscle growth and therefore on the total volume of metabolically active lean body mass, there is mounting evidence that myostatin affects the growth and metabolic state of other tissues, including the adipose and the liver. In addition, recent work has explored the role of myostatin in substrate mobilization, uptake, and/or utilization of muscle independent of its effects on body composition. Finally, the effects of both endurance and resistance exercise on myostatin expression, as well as the potential role of myostatin in the beneficial metabolic adaptations occurring in response to exercise, have also begun to be delineated in greater detail. The purpose of this review was to summarize the work to date on the expression and function of myostatin in obesity, diabetes, and exercise adaptation.

1Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO; 2Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Alberta, CANADA; and 3National Institute of Diabetes and Diseases of the Kidney, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

Address for correspondence: David L. Allen, Ph.D., Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0354; E-mail:

Submitted for publication November 2010.

Accepted for publication February 2011.

©2011The American College of Sports Medicine