I represent the University in Sports Medicine and Precision Medicine for Exercise and Health. Research includes physical activity, performance, anti-doping and children's sports.
The main research focus is to understand the molecular mechanisms governing skeletal muscle adaptation and development in response to changes in physical demand. This is relevant in order to use exercise to improve function both in health and disease. Initial studies on the effects of strenuous, eccentric physical activity on the body's anti-oxidative defence and immune systems revealed that the prevailing hypothesis on muscle adaptation to exercise, including a damage-repair mechanism, should be revised. Observed inflammation processes were minute and using immunofluorescent microscopy we demonstrated that cytoskeletal disruptions (desmin and phaliodin) more accurately can be described as remodelling and that fibre necrosis do not occur in human muscle even when the eccentric exercise strain is sever. In order to perform unbiased analyses, not governed by previously known molecules (which is the case when using antibody based methods) proteomic screening is currently used. In addition, current studies are aimed at developing new detection methods for blood doping and setting limits for physical performance for fire-fighters.
My research is focused on the body´s adaptation to physical activity, with applications in morphology, immunology and proteomics. Currently, I am running several different studies that address this issue from various aspects, applying a number of different techniques.
Muscle adaptation to training
Damage and inflammation: A debate within the scientific community has been going on for decades: Can skeletal muscle be damaged by exercise? Current hypothesis has been that muscle adaptation occurs via a damage-inflammation pathway. By performing a series of extreme exercise studies (eccentric exercise) I have put this hypothesis under scrutiny. Dynamic exercise: It is well established that exercise is specific; you get better at what you train. By standardized testing and training of healthy subjects, I have investigated the molecular mechanisms behind this specificity.
Healthy and diseased muscle function in cold climate
As part of the INTERREG III A North project "Human and Cold" several groups, including fibromyalgia patients, have performed repetitive work in temperatures ranging from -60º C to +20º C. Measurements have included VO2max testing, motion analysis, surface EMG and intra-muscular temperatures. Thesis by Hugo Piedrahita, 2008 www.ltu.se/staff/h/hugpid?l=en.
Muscle injury prevention and rehabilitation
Alternations in motion patterns can influence performance, and incorrect movements cause overuse injuries. Hi-resolution motion detection system has been used to study repetitive work tasks, knee-related instabilities among soccer players and back-pain in cross country skiers. A novel statistical approach for handling of motion analysis data has been developed (www.winter-net.se).
A recent thesis from our group (Thesis by Anders Eriksson, 2006 www.ltu.se/staff/a/anderi) investigated the effects of anabolic steroids on muscle structure. In a WADA supported study, we are investigating the long term effect of anabolic steroids on elite athletes. Understanding for the molecular changes that occur as a result of anabolic steroid administration can be useful in treatments for people with wasting muscle disorders and to develop a doping test. Ongoing PhD Project.
By increasing the number of red blood cells in circulation performance in endurance events are enhanced. Blood transfusion is illegal, but undetectable if one's one blood is used (autologous blood doping). In a WADA financed project we are currently developing a novel method to detect this type of doping, using a proteomic approach. Included in this work is also a mechanistic study of RBC breakdown. Ongoing PhD Project. (http://www.chemicalnet.se/iuware.aspx?pageid=792&ssoid=136971 and www.ubi.se)
Physical work performance
A very extensive study, financed by the Swedish Rescue Service, is aimed at selecting the most relevant exercise tests to describe and predict physical performance among fire fighters. More than 9000 tests were performed during a period of 18 months. Ongoing PhD thesis on national limits for physical capacity of firefighters (www.msb.se/sv/).
Diseases related to the musculoskeletal system
Several muscle diseases have unexplored causes. We are currently screening for pathological alterations in the Dystrophia Myotonica 2 (DM2) muscle proteome. Also, the large collection of muscle samples from a variety of muscle diseases stored at the department of Anatomy are of great interest to re-analyze samples using novel techniques in order to further explore disease mechanisms. Comparisons between different muscles include; eye, trapezius and vastus lateralis muscles. The eye muscle is seldom struck by disease, while the trapezius is often affected by over use symptoms, even though both muscles are in constant use. Comparing these muscles may give us ideas about the molecular structure responsible for the difference in pathology. A large scale study on exercise for 450 RA patients has been approved by the Swedish Research Council and initiated in 2010 in collaboration with researchers at the Dep. Rheumatology, Karolinska Institute (http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN25539102/).