Passive and post-exercise cold-water immersion augments PGC-1alpha and VEGF expression in human skeletal muscle.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • CH Joo
  • R Allan
  • GL Close
  • TS Jeong
  • JD Bartlett
  • C Mawhinney
  • J Louhelainen
  • JP Morton
  • W Gregson


We tested the hypothesis that both post-exercise and passive cold water immersion (CWI) increases PGC-1α and VEGF mRNA expression in human skeletal muscle.

Study 1 Nine males completed an intermittent running protocol (8 × 3-min bouts at 90 % V̇O2max , interspersed with 3-min active recovery (1.5-min at 25 % and 1.5-min at 50 % V̇O2max ) before undergoing CWI (10 min at 8 °C) or seated rest (CONT) in a counterbalanced, randomised manner. Study 2 Ten males underwent an identical CWI protocol under passive conditions.

Study 1 PGC-1α mRNA increased in CONT (~3.4-fold; P < 0.001) and CWI (~5.9-fold; P < 0.001) at 3 h post-exercise with a greater increase observed in CWI (P < 0.001). VEGFtotal mRNA increased after CWI only (~2.4-fold) compared with CONT (~1.1-fold) at 3 h post-exercise (P < 0.01). Study 2 Following CWI, PGC-1α mRNA expression was significantly increased ~1.3-fold (P = 0.001) and 1.4-fold (P = 0.0004) at 3 and 6 h, respectively. Similarly, VEGF165 mRNA was significantly increased in CWI ~1.9-fold (P = 0.03) and 2.2-fold (P = 0.009) at 3 and 6 h post-immersion.

Data confirm post-exercise CWI augments the acute exercise-induced expression of PGC-1α mRNA in human skeletal muscle compared to exercise per se. Additionally CWI per se mediates the activation of PGC-1α and VEGF mRNA expression in human skeletal muscle. Cold water may therefore enhance the adaptive response to acute exercise.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2315–2326
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number11-12
Early online date3 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


  • PGC-1α, VEGF, CWI