Muscle miRNAs are influenced by sex at baseline and in response to exercise

[thumbnail of s12915-023-01755-3.pdf]
s12915-023-01755-3.pdf - Published Version (2MB) | Preview
Available under license: Creative Commons Attribution

Hiam, Danielle ORCID: 0000-0003-0135-329X, Landen, Shanie ORCID: 0000-0002-7658-030X, Jacques, Macsue ORCID: 0000-0002-4337-7022, Voisin, Sarah ORCID: 0000-0002-4074-7083, Lamon, Severine ORCID: 0000-0002-3271-6551 and Eynon, Nir ORCID: 0000-0003-4046-8276 (2023) Muscle miRNAs are influenced by sex at baseline and in response to exercise. BMC Biology, 21. ISSN 1741-7007


Background: Sex differences in microRNA (miRNA) expression profiles have been found across multiple tissues. Skeletal muscle is one of the most sex-biased tissues of the body. MiRNAs are necessary for development and have regulatory roles in determining skeletal muscle phenotype and have important roles in the response to exercise in muscle. Yet there is limited research into the role and regulation of miRNAs in the skeletal muscle at baseline and in response to exercise, a well-known modulator of miRNA expression. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of sex on miRNA expression in the skeletal muscle at baseline and after an acute bout of high-intensity interval exercise. A total of 758 miRNAs were measured using Taqman®miRNA arrays in the skeletal muscle of 42 healthy participants from the Gene SMART study (23 males and 19 females of comparable fitness levels and aged 18–45 years), of which 308 were detected. MiRNAs that differed by sex at baseline and whose change in expression following high-intensity interval exercise differed between the sexes were identified using mixed linear models adjusted for BMI and Wpeak. We performed in silico analyses to identify the putative gene targets of the exercise-induced, sex-specific miRNAs and overrepresentation analyses to identify enriched biological pathways. We performed functional assays by overexpressing two sex-biased miRNAs in human primary muscle cells derived from male and female donors to understand their downstream effects on the transcriptome. Results: At baseline, 148 miRNAs were differentially expressed in the skeletal muscle between the sexes. Interaction analysis identified 111 miRNAs whose response to an acute bout of high-intensity interval exercise differed between the sexes. Sex-biased miRNA gene targets were enriched for muscle-related processes including proliferation and differentiation of muscle cells and numerous metabolic pathways, suggesting that miRNAs participate in programming sex differences in skeletal muscle function. Overexpression of sex-biased miRNA-30a and miRNA-30c resulted in profound changes in gene expression profiles that were specific to the sex of the cell donor in human primary skeletal muscle cells. Conclusions: We uncovered sex differences in the expression levels of muscle miRNAs at baseline and in response to acute high-intensity interval exercise. These miRNAs target regulatory pathways essential to skeletal muscle development and metabolism. Our findings highlight that miRNAs play an important role in programming sex differences in the skeletal muscle phenotype.

Dimensions Badge

Altmetric Badge

Item type Article
DOI 10.1186/s12915-023-01755-3
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4207 Sports science and exercise
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords miRNA; transcriptome; sex differences; skeletal muscle
Download/View statistics View download statistics for this item

Search Google Scholar

Repository staff login