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Exercise-induced muscle damage (regeneration capacity)

Prolonged unaccustomed exercise involving muscle lengthening (eccentric) actions can result in ultrastructural muscle disruption, impaired excitation–contraction coupling, inflammation and muscle protein degradation.

Certain gene variations, or polymorphisms have been associated with exercise-induced muscle damage (i.e. individuals with certain genotypes experience greater muscle damage, and require longer recovery, following strenuous exercise). Knowing how someone is likely to respond to a particular type of exercise could help coaches/practitioners individualise the exercise training of their athletes/patients, thus maximising recovery and adaptation, while reducing overload-associated injury risk.


The exercise can produce muscle damage through a series of alterations of two types, some of early onset and mechanical origin while others are consequences of the previous ones and consist on the inflammatory process. The most used models are the eccentric exercise (by isolated contractions, jumps or downhill running) and the post-competition analysis of some test, for example marathon.

This type of exercise called eccentric exercise (rapid stretching of the muscle by contraction) is successfully included in the training of different sport contexts improving strength, muscular power, coordination and performance through the improvement in the recruitment of motor units, a increase in reflex enhancement and changes in the elastic properties of muscle and connective tissue. However, by containing an eccentric exercise phase, it is highly associated with muscle damage and pain.

As older people appear to be more susceptible to exercise-induced muscle damage than younger adults, older people with a genetic predisposition to greater muscle damage, may be at a greater risk of developing muscle–tendon unit injury.


Satellite cells are mononuclear cells that live outside of differentiated muscles cells. They have their own membrane but share the basement membrane with the muscle fibers. For tissue recovery an essential factor is that the basement membrane is not damaged. These cells do not divide, except when they are required to replace dead muscle fibers. When they do, one of the "sisters" remains as a satellite, and the others differ, acquiring a narrow neuronal control and the ability to form sarcomeres (the contractile structures of muscle fibers).

During inflammation, in damaged cells the leukocytes generate peptides called "competence factors". When these factors are released, the satellite cells pass from the G0 or inactive state to the activity state (G1).

Gene or region studied

  • SOD2
  • SLC30A8
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