Resistance exercise and cyclooxygenase (COX) expression in human skeletal muscle: Implications for COX-inhibiting drugs and protein synthesis

E. M. Weinheimer, B. Jemiolo, C. C. Carroll, M. P. Harber, J. M. Haus, N. A. Burd, J. K. LeMoine, S. W. Trappe, Todd A. Trappe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have shown that ibuprofen and acetaminophen block cyclooxygenase (COX) synthesis of prostaglandin PGF and the muscle protein synthesis increase following resistance exercise. Confusingly, these two drugs are purported to work through different mechanisms, with acetaminophen apparently unable to block COX and ibuprofen able to nonspecifically block COX-1 and COX-2. A recently discovered intron-retaining COX, now known to have three variants, has been shown to be sensitive to both drugs. We measured the expression patterns and levels of the intron 1-retaining COX-1 variants (-1b1, -1b2, and -1b3), COX-1, and COX-2 at rest and following resistance exercise to help elucidate the COX through which PGF, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen regulate muscle protein synthesis. Skeletal muscle biopsy samples were taken from 16 individuals (8M, 8F) before, 4, and 24 h after a bout of resistance exercise and analyzed using real-time RT-PCR. Relatively few individuals expressed the intron 1-retaining COX-1b variants (COX-1b1, -1b2, and -1b3) at any time point, and when expressed, these variants were in very low abundance. COX-1 was the most abundant COX mRNA before exercise and remained unchanged (P > 0.05) following exercise. COX-2 was not expressed before exercise, but increased significantly (P < 0.05) at 4 and 24 h after exercise. The inconsistent and low levels of expression of the intron 1-retaining COX-1 variants suggest that these variants are not likely responsible for the inhibition of PGF production and skeletal muscle protein synthesis after resistance exercise by ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Skeletal muscle-specific inhibition of COX-1 or COX-2 by these drugs should be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R2241-R2248
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Acetaminophen
  • Ibuprofen
  • Prostaglandin F
  • Real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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