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When you do strength train­ing your mus­cle tis­sue is con­tin­u­ously ex­tract­ing stem cells from your blood so that they can then grow into ma­ture mus­cle cells. An Ital­ian in-vitro study seems to sug­gest that resver­a­trol sup­ple­men­ta­tion speeds up this process. Anna Mon­te­sano’s study, which was pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Trans­la­tional Medicine, is of a kind rarely found these days. The re­searchers stud­ied the ef­fect of resver­a­trol on mus­cle cells sim­ply be­cause they were cu­ri­ous about it. ‘Cu­rios­ity driven re­search’ is the name given to this kind of work, and most uni­ver­si­ties have al­most out­lawed this type of study. In the sec­ond decade of the twenty-first century sci­en­tific re­search has to be ‘use­ful’. Uni­ver­si­ties in­creas­ingly com­pel re­searchers to un­der­take re­search that pri­vate com­pa­nies can do twenty times bet­ter and faster. Whether this is ‘bet­ter’ for so­ci­ety is a moot point. The pace of tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion is still de­creas­ing, de­spite all the ‘use­ful’ re­search be­ing un­der­taken. But never mind. Mon­te­sano wanted to know what resver­a­trol did to young mus­cle cells in test tubes. Mon­te­sano stud­ied the ef­fect of resver­a­trol in con­cen­tra­tions of 0.1 and 25 mi­cro­moles. Resver­a­trol speeded up the cell de­vel­op­ment. As a re­sult, to start with resver­a­trol re­duced the speed at which the cells di­vided. But at the same time resver­a­trol also re­sulted in the mus­cle fi­bres be­com­ing longer and thicker. Resver­a­trol boosted the pro­duc­tion of the con­tract­ing mo­tor mus­cle protein Myosin Heavy Chain [MyHC], the most im­por­tant com­po­nent in ma­ture mus­cle fi­bres. Resver­a­trol boosted the amount of AMPK and of the ex­tra­cel­lu­lar sig­nal-reg­u­lated ki­nases 1 and 2 [ERK1] [ERK2] in the mus­cle cells. AMPK is a protein that be­comes ac­tive when mus­cle cells have no en­ergy left. ERK1 and ERK2 are pro­teins that start up pro­cesses in mus­cle cells in re­sponse to growth fac­tors that are ac­tive out­side the mus­cle cells. AMPK and ERK1/2 reg­u­late the de­vel­op­ment of mus­cle cells in op­po­site di­rec­tions: AMPK stops an­abolic pro­cesses, but stim­u­lates the pro­duc­tion of mi­to­chon­dria, while ex­tra­cel­lu­lar sig­nal-re­lated ki­nases trans­mit the an­abolic stim­u­lus of IGF-1 to the DNA in the mus­cle cells. But it seems that in this case that resver­a­trol has a greater ef­fect on ERK1/2 than on AMPK. “Our data demon­strate that resver­a­trol could con­trol pro­lif­er­a­tion, start myo­ge­n­e­sis process and in­duce hy­per­tro­phy”, the Ital­ians write. “Our in vitro stud­ies may con­sti­tute novel proof of prin­ci­ple to po­ten­tial ap­pli­ca­tions of the com­pound to pre­vent or re­verse mus­cle im­pair­ment by stim­u­lat­ing myo­ge­n­e­sis, and em­pha­size new pos­si­ble use ofo resver­a­trol to en­hance mus­cle per­for­mance.”

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