The University of Iowa

Vitor Lira

Assistant Professor
Health & Human Physiology
End Degree: 
PhD in Exercise Physiology
University of Florida
432 FH, 4324 PBDB
Muscle biology,exercise physiology, metabolism, autophagy, gene regulation

Lab: Integrative Muscle Biology and Metabolism Laboratory, 508 FH & 4310D PBDB

Post-doctoral Fellowship 

Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Virginia

Courses Taught

  • 4410:0001 (027:141/240) Exercise Physiology
  • 6400:0001 (027:241) Integrative Physiology Seminar
  • 4130:0001 (027:155) Skeletal Muscle Physiology
  • 4500:0IND (027:195) Undergraduate Independent Study

Research Interests

Obesity and diabetes are chronic diseases that negatively impact the metabolism of several tissues in the body. In those conditions, skeletal muscle and heart metabolism are promptly affected often leading to skeletal muscle insulin resistance and diabetic cardiomyopathy. In contrast, both exercise and calorie restriction cause metabolic adaptations in muscle and in the heart that are protective against the insults of over nutrition and diabetes. The overall objective of our research is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms that participate in the development of and protection against metabolic impairments in skeletal muscle and in the heart. We have identified the process of autophagy as playing an instrumental role in exercise-induced adaptations in skeletal muscle and the heart. Currently our major research efforts are to unveil the mechanisms by which: I) autophagy is deregulated in diabetes and obesity; II) exercise and calorie restriction stimulate autophagy; and III) autophagy interferes with skeletal muscle and heart function and substrate metabolism. We address our questions using genetic, nutraceutical and pharmacological approaches both in mice and in cultured cells. Ultimately, we hope to identify novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Recent Selected Publications

Okutsu M, Call JA, Lira VA, Zhang M, Donet JA, French BA, Martin KS, Peirce-Cottler SM, Rembold CM, Annex BH, Yan Z. Extracellular superoxide dismutase ameliorates skeletal muscle abnormalities, cachexia, and exercise intolerance in mice with congestive heart failure. Circ Heart Fail. 2014;7(3):519-30.

Okutsu M, Lira VA, Higashida K, Peake J, Higuchi M, Suzuki K. Corticosterone accelerates atherosclerosis in the apolipoprotein E-deficient mouse. Atherosclerosis. 2014;232(2):414-9.

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;27(10):4184-93.

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

Yan Z, Lira VA, Greene NP. Exercise training-induced regulation of mitochondrial quality. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2012;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;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;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;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;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;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.