Physical inactivity is associated with a high prevalence of type 2 diabetes and is an independent predictor of mortality. It is possible that the detrimental effects of physical inactivity are mediated through a lack of adequate muscle oxidative capacity. This short review will cover the present literature on the effects of different models of inactivity on muscle oxidative capacity in humans. Effects of physical inactivity include decreased mitochondrial content, decreased activity of oxidative enzymes, changes in markers of oxidative stress and a decreased expression of genes and contents of proteins related to oxidative phosphorylation. With such a substantial down-regulation, it is likely that a range of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-dependent pathways such as calcium signalling, respiratory capacity and apoptosis are affected by physical inactivity. However, this has not been investigated in humans, and further studies are required to substantiate this hypothesis, which could expand our knowledge of the potential link between lifestyle-related diseases and muscle oxidative capacity. Furthermore, even though a large body of literature reports the effect of physical training on muscle oxidative capacity, the adaptations that occur with physical inactivity may not always be opposite to that of physical training. Thus, it is concluded that studies on the effect of physical inactivity per se on muscle oxidative capacity in functional human skeletal muscle are warranted.
European Journal of Sport Science, 2014, Vol 14, Issue 4, p. 376-383