• canine;
  • gene expression;
  • microarray;
  • obesity


Skeletal muscle is a large and insulin-sensitive tissue that is an important contributor to metabolic homeostasis and energy expenditure. Many metabolic processes are altered with obesity, but the contribution of muscle tissue in this regard is unclear. A limited number of studies have compared skeletal muscle gene expression of lean and obese dogs. Using microarray technology, our objective was to identify genes and functional classes differentially expressed in skeletal muscle of obese (14.6 kg; 8.2 body condition score; 44.5% body fat) vs. lean (8.6 kg; 4.1 body condition score; 22.9% body fat) female beagle adult dogs. Alterations in 77 transcripts was observed in genes pertaining to the functional classes of signaling, transport, protein catabolism and proteolysis, protein modification, development, transcription and apoptosis, cell cycle and differentiation. Genes differentially expressed in obese vs. lean dog skeletal muscle indicate oxidative stress and altered skeletal muscle cell differentiation. Many genes traditionally associated with lipid, protein and carbohydrate metabolism were not altered in obese vs. lean dogs, but genes pertaining to endocannabinoid metabolism, insulin signaling, type II diabetes mellitus and carnitine transport were differentially expressed. The relatively small response of skeletal muscle could indicate that changes are occurring at a post-transcriptional level, that other tissues (e.g., adipose tissue) were buffering skeletal muscle from metabolic dysfunction or that obesity-induced changes in skeletal muscle require a longer period of time and that the length of our study was not sufficient to detect them. Although only a limited number of differentially expressed genes were detected, these results highlight genes and functional classes that may be important in determining the etiology of obesity-induced derangement of skeletal muscle function.