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Serum myostatin decreases in exercising and aging Alaskan sled dogs, while growth and differentiation factor 15 remains unaltered

Sayaka ShiomitsuDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

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Cristina M. HansenDepartment of Veterinary Medicine, The University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK

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Margret I. LenfestDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

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Christopher W. FryeDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

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Joseph J. WakshlagDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES

To evaluate the serum concentrations of myostatin and growth and differentiation factor 15 (GDF-15) in Alaskan Husky sled dogs participating in a 350-mile (560-km) race and in an older population, and to examine correlations between changes in serum concentrations and body condition scores (BCSs).

ANIMALS

Dogs were recruited from 3 teams of Alaskan Huskies participating in the Alaskan–Yukon Quest sled-dog race and retirees from a research sled-dog colony.

PROCEDURES

Serum samples and BCSs were collected prior to racing, midway, and postrace; and in an older cohort (13 to 14 years). Myostatin and GDF-15 concentrations were assessed using commercially available ELISA kits.

RESULTS

The median myostatin prerace concentration (9,519 pg/mL) was significantly greater than the mid- and postrace concentrations (7,709 pg/mL and 3,247 pg/mL, respectively). The prerace concentration was also significantly greater than that of the retired sled group dogs at 6,134 pg/mL. GDF-15 median serum concentrations did not change significantly across any racing time point (approx 350 pg/mL) or in the older cohort. No significant correlations were observed between changes in BCS and myostatin or GDF-15 concentrations.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Serum myostatin decreases dramatically, yet no correlations to loss of BCS could be found. Myostatin signaling may be involved in maintaining hypertrophic signaling during intense exercise. Neither racing distance nor geriatric/retirement status appears to have an effect on serum GDF-15 concentration. Myostatin was less in the older, retired sled dogs compared to the younger racing cohort. Such differences highlight the roles that fitness level and age play regarding myostatin levels.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES

To evaluate the serum concentrations of myostatin and growth and differentiation factor 15 (GDF-15) in Alaskan Husky sled dogs participating in a 350-mile (560-km) race and in an older population, and to examine correlations between changes in serum concentrations and body condition scores (BCSs).

ANIMALS

Dogs were recruited from 3 teams of Alaskan Huskies participating in the Alaskan–Yukon Quest sled-dog race and retirees from a research sled-dog colony.

PROCEDURES

Serum samples and BCSs were collected prior to racing, midway, and postrace; and in an older cohort (13 to 14 years). Myostatin and GDF-15 concentrations were assessed using commercially available ELISA kits.

RESULTS

The median myostatin prerace concentration (9,519 pg/mL) was significantly greater than the mid- and postrace concentrations (7,709 pg/mL and 3,247 pg/mL, respectively). The prerace concentration was also significantly greater than that of the retired sled group dogs at 6,134 pg/mL. GDF-15 median serum concentrations did not change significantly across any racing time point (approx 350 pg/mL) or in the older cohort. No significant correlations were observed between changes in BCS and myostatin or GDF-15 concentrations.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Serum myostatin decreases dramatically, yet no correlations to loss of BCS could be found. Myostatin signaling may be involved in maintaining hypertrophic signaling during intense exercise. Neither racing distance nor geriatric/retirement status appears to have an effect on serum GDF-15 concentration. Myostatin was less in the older, retired sled dogs compared to the younger racing cohort. Such differences highlight the roles that fitness level and age play regarding myostatin levels.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Table S1 (PDF 407 KB)

Contributor Notes

Corresponding author: Dr. Wakshlag (jw37@cornell.edu)