Dietary apple polyphenols (AP) have been shown to exhibit beneficial effects on muscle endurance. Fast-to-slow change in the composition of myosin heavy chains was known as one of the molecular mechanisms. Here, we examined the effects of dietary AP on the capillaries and mitochondria in the rat skeletal muscle to elucidate the mechanisms underlying muscular endurance enhancement. Twenty-four Wistar male rats were divided into three groups, namely, the control group, 0.5% AP group, and 5% AP group (n = 8 in each group). After a feeding period of 4 weeks, rats were dissected, gastrocnemius muscles were removed, and the density of capillaries and levels of mitochondrial proteins were analyzed. Capillary density of the gastrocnemius increased to 17.8% in rats fed with 5% AP as compared to the control rats. No significant change was observed in the mitochondrial content and dynamics (fusion/fission) of regulatory proteins. To investigate the mechanisms underlying the increase in the capillary density, positive (vascular endothelial cell growth factor, VEGF) and negative (thrombosponsin-1, TSP-1) factors of angiogenesis were analyzed. TSP-1 expression significantly decreased in rats fed with 0.5% AP and 5% AP by approximately 25% and 40%, respectively, as compared with the control rats. There were no significant differences in VEGF expression. Thus, dietary AP may increase the muscle capillary density by decreasing TSP-1 expression. We concluded that the increase in the capillary density and the fast-to-slow change in myosin heavy chains by AP feeding are the main causes for muscle endurance enhancement in Wistar rats.
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