Metabolic physiology and skeletal muscle phenotypes in male and female myoglobin knockout mice

Kikumi D. Ono-Moore, I. Mark Olfert, Jennifer M. Rutkowsky, Sree V. Chintapalli, Brandon J. Willis, Michael L. Blackburn, D. Keith Williams, Juliana O'Reilly, Todd Tolentino, K. C.Kent Lloyd, Sean H. Adams

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1 Scopus citations


Myoglobin (Mb) is a regulator of O2 bioavailability in type I muscle and heart, at least when tissue O2 levels drop. Mb also plays a role in regulating cellular nitric oxide (NO) pools. Robust binding of long-chain fatty acids and long-chain acylcarnitines to Mb, and enhanced glucose metabolism in hearts of Mb knockout (KO) mice, suggest additional roles in muscle intermediary metabolism and fuel selection. To evaluate this hypothesis, we measured energy expenditure (EE), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), body weight gain and adiposity, glucose tolerance, and insulin sensitivity in Mb knockout (Mb-/-) and wild-type (WT) mice challenged with a high-fat diet (HFD, 45% of calories). In males (n = 10/genotype) and females (n = 9/genotype) tested at 5-6, 11-12, and 17-18 wk, there were no genotype effects on RER, EE, or food intake. RER and EE during cold (10°C, 72 h), and glucose and insulin tolerance, were not different compared with within-sex WT controls. At ∼18 and ∼19 wk of age, female Mb-/- adiposity was ∼42%-48% higher versus WT females (P = 0.1). Transcriptomics analyses (whole gastrocnemius, soleus) revealed few consistent changes, with the notable exception of a 20% drop in soleus transferrin receptor (Tfrc) mRNA. Capillarity indices were significantly increased in Mb-/-, specifically in Mb-rich soleus and deep gastrocnemius. The results indicate that Mb loss does not have a major impact on whole body glucose homeostasis, EE, RER, or response to a cold challenge in mice. However, the greater adiposity in female Mb-/- mice indicates a sex-specific effect of Mb KO on fat storage and feed efficiency.NEW & NOTEWORTHY The roles of myoglobin remain to be elaborated. We address sexual dimorphism in terms of outcomes in response to the loss of myoglobin in knockout mice and perform, for the first time, a series of comprehensive metabolic studies under conditions in which fat is mobilized (high-fat diet, cold). The results highlight that myoglobin is not necessary and sufficient for maintaining oxidative metabolism and point to alternative roles for this protein in muscle and heart.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E63-E79
JournalAmerican journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • globin
  • heme
  • hypoxia
  • neovascularization
  • nitric oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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