Protein Metabolism In Rheumatoid Arthritis and Aging: Effects on Muscle Strength Training and Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha

By Ty Sevin, Aug 31, 2021

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Muscle Strength Training and Tumor Necrosis Factor a Laura C. Rall,PhD,RD, Gregory Dolnikowski,PhD, Wilburta J. Hartman,PhD, Nancy Lundgren: Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA; Clifford J. Rosen, MD: Maine Center for Osteoporosis Research and Education, St. Joseph Hospital, Bangor; Leslie W. Abad,Ronenn Roubenoff,MD, MHS: Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center, and Tupper Research Institute, Tufts University School of Medicine and New England Medical Center, Boston, MA; Charles A. Dinarello, MD: Tupper Research Institute, Tufts University School of Medicine and New England Medical Center, Boston, MA.


To determine the effects of rheumatoid arthritis on whole-body protein metabolism, the researchers examined 4 separate groups which included both men and women: Group 1= 8 untrained subjects, aged 25-65 years with rheumatoid arthritis, Group 2= 8 untrained healthy young subjects, aged 22-30 years, and Group 3= 14 untrained healthy older subjects, aged 65-80. Subjects in groups 1 and 2 underwent 12 weeks of strength training. Group 3 subjects were randomly assigned to either a 12 week strength training group (Group 3A) or a non-strength training control group (Group 3B). Two times per week, all subjects warmed up by performing stretching exercises in the pool and by swimming or water walking for 10 minutes. Groups 1,2 and 3A then proceeded to strength training.


Subjects with rheumatoid arthritis had higher rates of protein breakdown than did young or elderly healthy subjects. This increased protein breakdown contributes to cachexia (wasting away). In addition various substances within the body (such as tumor necrosis factor a) closely correlate with protein metabolism and these relationships are profoundly disturbed in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. There were no changes in protein metabolism or hormone levels as a result of strength training among any of the groups of subjects. However, all groups participating in the strength training improved strength and functional status.


These results suggest that strength training does not change the processes responsible for higher rates of protein breakdown in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. However, these processes do not prevent the successful use of strength training to reverse muscle weakness. Strength training can be used to improve strength and functional status in those with rheumatoid arthritis.

Keiser Equipment Used:

Leg extension, chest press, lat pull down, upper back, abdominal.

Published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, Vol.39, No.7,pgs.1115-1124, July, 1996.

Link to Original Research

About the author

Ty Sevin

Director of Human Performance, Education and Research

Articles by Ty Sevin >

With over 25 years of coaching experience at both the collegiate and Olympic levels, Ty Sevin is one of the most influential track and field coaches in the country. Ty has worked for the United States Olympic Committee, serving as the Director of the Track and Field Residency Program at the USOC Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. He has also served as an assistant coach for Team USA on three separate occasions, for both the men’s and women’s teams. Ty himself was a four-time U.S. Olympics Trials qualifier in javelin. Ty most recently spent four years as the Associate Head Coach at the University of Texas at Austin for both the men’s and women’s track and field teams. Prior to that, he led the men’s and women’s track and cross-country teams at the University of New Orleans and McNeese State.

Currently, Ty applies his vast industry experience to the role of Director of Human Performance, Research and Education for Keiser Corporation, where he consults with college and professional sports teams regarding the utilization of Keiser strength equipment. He is also responsible for creating educational curriculum relating to human performance and overseeing Keiser research projects