The effects of diet composition and chronic obesity on muscle growth and function

Luís G.O. De Sousa, Andrea G. Marshall, Jennifer E. Norman, Jordan D. Fuqua, Vitor A. Lira, John C. Rutledge, Sue Bodine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Diet-induced obesity (DIO) is associated with glucose intolerance, insulin resistance (IR), and an increase in intramyocellular lipids (IMCL), which may lead to disturbances in glucose and protein metabolism. To this matter, it has been speculated that chronic obesity and elevated IMCL may contribute to skeletal muscle loss and deficits in muscle function and growth capacity. Thus, we hypothesized that diets with elevated fat content would induce obesity and insulin resistance, leading to a decrease in muscle mass and an attenuated growth response to increased external loading in adult male mice. Male C57BL/6 mice (8 wk of age) were subjected to five different diets, namely, chow, low-dat-diet (LFD), high-fat-diet (HFD), sucrose, or Western diet, for 28 wk. At 25 wk, HFD and Western diets induced a 60.4% and 35.9% increase in body weight, respectively. Interestingly, HFD, but not Western or sucrose, induced glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. Measurement of isometric torque (ankle plantar flexor and ankle dorsiflexor muscles) revealed no effect of DIO on muscle function. At 28 wk of intervention, muscle area and protein synthesis were similar across all diet groups, despite insulin resistance and increased IMCL being observed in HFD and Western diet groups. In response to 30 days of functional overload, an attenuated growth response was observed in only the HFD group. Nevertheless, our results show that DIO alone is not sufficient to induce muscle atrophy and contractile dysfunction in adult male C57BL/6 mice. However, diet composition does have an impact on muscle growth in response to increased external loading.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-138
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Atrophy
  • Hypertrophy
  • Insulin resistance
  • Intramuscular lipids
  • Muscle function
  • Obesity
  • Skeletal muscle atrophy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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