Physiological and biochemical correlates of increased work in trained iron-deficient rats

W. T. Willis, P. R. Dallman, G. A. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


We investigated physiological and biochemical factors associated with the improved work capacity of trained iron-deficient rats. Female 21-day-old rats were assigned to one of four groups, two dietary groups (50 and 6 ppm dietary iron) subdivided into two levels of activity (sedentary and treadmill trained),. Iron deficiency decreased hemoglobin (61%), maximal O2 uptake, (V̇O2(max)) (40%), skeletal muscle mitochondrial oxidase activities (59-90%), and running endurance (94%). In contrast, activities of tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle enzymes in skeletal muscle were largely unaffected. Four weeks of mild training in iron-deficient rats resulted in improved blood lactate homeostasis during exercise and increased V̇O2(max) (15%), TCA cycle enzymes of skeletal muscle (27-58%) and heart (29%), and liver NADH oxidase (34%) but did not affect any of these parameters in the iron-sufficient animals. In iron-deficient rats training affected neither the blood hemoglobin level nor any measured iron-dependent enzyme pathway of skeletal muscle but substantially increased endurance (230%). We conclude that the training-induced increase in endurance in iron-deficient rats may be related to cardiovascular improvements, elevations in liver oxidative capacity, and increases in the activities of oxidative enzymes that do not contain iron in skeletal and cardiac muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-263
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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