For citation purposes: Ohlendieck K. Proteomics of exercise-induced skeletal muscle adaptations. OA Sports Medicine 2013 Mar 01;1(1):3.

Critical review

Anatomy, Biomechanics & Cell Biology

Proteomics of exercise-induced skeletal muscle adaptations

K Ohlendieck

Authors affiliations

Muscle Biology Laboratory, Department of Biology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland

* Corresponding author Email:



The systems biological analysis of dynamic protein constellations and the determination of proteome-wide alterations due to physiological adaptations play an increasing role in modern sports medicine. Several large-scale studies on the effect of physical training in humans and relevant animal models have decisively improved our global understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in skeletal muscle changes during exercise. The aim of this critical review was to discuss the proteomics of exercise-induced skeletal muscle adaptations.


Building on this extensive knowledge of conventional exercise biology, refined protein biochemical and mass spectrometric technologies can now be employed to study subtle changes in protein concentration, isoform expression patterns, protein-protein interactions and/or post-translational modifications following physical activity. Besides being a key method for the elucidation of fibre plasticity and muscle transformation, the systematic application of mass spectrometry-based proteomics promises to play a prevalent role in the establishment and evaluation of preventative exercise regimes to counteract skeletal muscle wasting and metabolic disturbances in common disorders with muscular involvement such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer cachexia or sarcopenia of old age. In this critical review, the impact of recent proteomic profiling studies of physical exercise is examined and its implications for our molecular understanding of skeletal muscle adaptations are discussed.


Recent findings from mass spectrometry-based proteomic studies of physical exercise have identified a variety of adaptive changes in muscle proteins involved in cellular signalling, fibre contraction, metabolic pathways and the cellular stress response. The establishment of these novel biomarkers, which are characteristic for exercise-related muscle adaptations, will be extremely useful for the detailed biochemical evaluation of physical training programs.

Licensee OA Publishing London 2013. Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY)