The University of Iowa

Vitor Lira

Assistant Professor
Health & Human Physiology
End Degree: 
PhD in Exercise Physiology
University of Florida
432 FH
Muscle biology,exercise physiology, metabolism, autophagy, gene regulation

Lab: Integrative Muscle Biology and Metabolism Laboratory, 508 FH

Post-doctoral Fellowship 

Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Virginia

Courses Taught

  • 027:141/240 Exercise Physiology
  • 027:241 Integrative Physiology Seminar
  • 027:195 Undergraduate Independent Study

Research Interests

Skeletal muscle comprises 40 to 50% of body mass in young and lean adults and is responsible for more than 70% of insulin-dependent glucose disposal. Therefore, metabolic defects in skeletal muscle either alone or in combination with muscle atrophy negatively impact whole-body glucose and lipid metabolism predisposing the individual to metabolic diseases such as obesity, type II diabetes and peripheral arterial disease. Conversely, both exercise and calorie restriction improve muscle metabolic efficiency and can reverse insulin resistance caused by overnutrition. The overall objective of my research is to understand the intracellular mechanisms required to bring about these metabolic changes in muscle. An important focus is on the functional role and regulation of the catabolic processes of autophagy and mitophagy (i.e. mitochondrial autophagy). We address our scientific questions with genetic, nutraceutical and pharmacological approaches both in mice and in cultured cells in combination with physiological assessments of muscle function. The ultimate goal is to identify novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of metabolic diseases.

Recent Selected Publications

Lira VA, Okutsu M, Zhang M, Greene NP, Laker RC, Breen DS, Hoehn KL, Yan Z. Autophagy is required for exercise training-induced skeletal muscle adaptation and improvement of physical performance. FASEB J. 2013 Jun 27. [Epub ahead of print]

Soltow QA, Zeanah EH, Lira VA, Criswell DS. Cessation of cyclic stretch induces atrophy of C2C12 myotubes. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2013 May 3;434(2):316-21.

Yan Z, Lira VA, Greene NP. Exercise training-induced regulation of mitochondrial quality. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2012 Jul;40(3):159-64.

Meher AK, Sharma PR, Lira VA, Yamamoto M, Kensler TW, Yan Z, Leitinger N. Nrf2 deficiency in myeloid cells is not sufficient to protect mice from high-fat diet-induced adipose tissue inflammation and insulin resistance. Free Radic Biol Med. 2012 May 1;52(9):1708-15.

Yan Z, Okutsu M, Akhtar YN, Lira VA. Regulation of exercise-induced fiber type transformation, mitochondrial biogenesis, and angiogenesis in skeletal muscle. J Appl Physiol. 2011 Jan;110(1):264-74.

Soltow QA, Lira VA, Betters JL, Long JH, Sellman JE, Zeanah EH, Criswell DS. Nitric oxide regulates stretch-induced proliferation in C2C12 myoblasts. J Muscle Res Cell Motil. 2010 Sep;31(3):215-25.

Lira VA, Brown DL, Lira AK, Kavazis AN, Soltow QA, Zeanah EH, Criswell DS. Nitric oxide and AMPK cooperatively regulate PGC-1 in skeletal muscle cells. J Physiol. 2010 Sep 15;588(Pt 18):3551-66.

Lira VA, Benton CR, Yan Z, Bonen A. PGC-1{alpha} regulation by exercise training and its influences on muscle function and insulin sensitivity. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2010 Aug;299(2):E145-61.

Pogozelski AR, Geng T, Li P, Yin X, Lira VA, Zhang M, Chi JT, Yan Z. p38gamma mitogen-activated protein kinase is a key regulator in skeletal muscle metabolic adaptation in mice. PLoS One 4:e7934, 2009.

Lira VA, Soltow QA, Long JH, Betters JL, Sellman JE, Criswell DS. Nitric oxide increases GLUT4 expression and regulates AMPK signaling in skeletal muscle. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Oct;293(4):E1062-8.