Robust arm and leg muscle adaptation to training despite ACE inhibition: a randomized placebo-controlled trial

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Purpose: Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor treatment is widely applied, but the fact that plasma ACE activity is a potential determinant of training-induced local muscular adaptability is often neglected. Thus, we investigated the hypothesis that ACE inhibition modulates the response to systematic aerobic exercise training on leg and arm muscular adaptations.

Methods: Healthy, untrained, middle-aged participants (40 ± 7 yrs) completed a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Participants were randomized to placebo (PLA: CaCO3) or ACE inhibitor (ACEi: enalapril) for 8 weeks and completed a supervised, high-intensity exercise training program. Muscular characteristics in the leg and arm were extensively evaluated pre and post-intervention.

Results: Forty-eight participants (nACEi = 23, nPLA = 25) completed the trial. Exercise training compliance was above 99%. After training, citrate synthase, 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase and phosphofructokinase maximal activity were increased in m. vastus lateralis in both groups (all P < 0.05) without statistical differences between them (all time × treatment P > 0.05). In m. deltoideus, citrate synthase maximal activity was upregulated to a greater extent (time × treatment P < 0.05) in PLA (51 [33;69] %) than in ACEi (28 [13;43] %), but the change in 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase and phosphofructokinase maximal activity was similar between groups. Finally, the training-induced changes in the platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 protein abundance, a marker of capillary density, were similar in both groups in m. vastus lateralis and m. deltoideus.

Conclusion: Eight weeks of high-intensity whole-body exercise training improves markers of skeletal muscle mitochondrial oxidative capacity, glycolytic capacity and angiogenesis, with no overall effect of pharmacological ACE inhibition in healthy adults.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)325-337
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, Muscle oxidative capacity, High-intensity interval training, Muscle-specific adaptations, Angiogenesis


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