To determine whether aerobic exercise training + weight loss (AEX + WL) would affect the expression of myostatin and its relationship with insulin sensitivity in a longitudinal, clinical intervention study.

Design and Methods

Thirty-three obese sedentary postmenopausal women and men (n = 17 and 16, age: 61 ± 1 years, body mass index: 31 ± 1 kg/m2, VO2max: 21.9 ± 1.0 mL/kg/min, X ± Standard error of the mean (SEM)) completed 6 months of 3 days/week AEX + WL. During an 80 mU m−2 min−1 hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp, we measured glucose utilization (M), myostatin, myogenin, and MyoD gene expression by real-time RT-PCR in vastus lateralis muscle at baseline and 2 h.


Body weight (−8%) and fat mass (−17%) decreased after AEX + WL (P < 0.001). Fat-free mass (FFM) and mid-thigh muscle area by computed tomography did not change but muscle attenuation increased (P < 0.05). VO2max increased 14% (P < 0.001). AEX + WL increased M by 18% (P < 0.01). Myostatin gene expression decreased 19% after AEX + WL (P < 0.05). Basal mRNA myostatin levels were negatively associated with M before the intervention (r = −0.43, P < 0.05). Insulin infusion increased myoD and myogenin expression before and after AEX + WL (both P < 0.001) but basal levels did not change. The insulin effect on myostatin expression was associated with the change in M after AEX + WL (r = 0.56, P < 0.005).


Exercise and weight loss results in a downregulation of myostatin mRNA and an improvement in insulin sensitivity in obese older men and women.