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Oestrogen status in relation to the early training responses in human thumb adductor muscles.

Onambélé-Pearson, Gladys and Bruce, Stuart and Woledge, Roger (2006) Oestrogen status in relation to the early training responses in human thumb adductor muscles. ISSN 1748-1708

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Abstract

AIMS: The aims of this study were to identify the mechanisms for the early response to training in women of different oestrogen status and to determine whether any oestrogen and exercise effects on these would be additive. METHODS: We monitored training (ten 5-s contractions per day for 12 weeks)-induced changes in the size, strength, voluntary activation capacity and index of crossbridge force state (i.e. rapid stretch to isometric torque ratio), in the thumb adductor muscles of postmenopausal [eight who had never used, and 14 who were using, hormone replacement therapy (HRT)] and seven premenopausal eumenorrhoeic women. The contralateral untrained muscle was used as a control. RESULTS: There was a significant effect of oestrogen status on the magnitude of training-induced strength increment, with the non-HRT postmenopausal group exhibiting the greatest benefits (28 +/- 6%, P = 0.024) from training. There were no significant or commensurate changes in either cross-sectional area or voluntary activation capacity. The index of crossbridge force state improved most in the no-HRT group (19 +/- 7%, P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Presence, rather than absence of oestrogen, is associated with relatively higher muscle function which limits the potential for any further training-induced increments in muscle performance, as would be expected if the muscle strengthening actions of training and oestrogen share a common, partially saturable physiological pathway. The mechanism that is involved in the early training-induced strength increment in the three differing oestrogen groups cannot be due to increased size or recruitment. It would appear instead that increased motor unit firing frequency is involved.

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