Background: Functional and physiological adaptations induced by resistance training have been extensively studied in older adults. However, microRNA (miRNA) as the novel regulator in protective effects remains poorly understood. Objective: The purpose of an exploratory study was to analyze the response of a panel of circulating miRNAs to adaptations mediated by resistance training. Methods: Ten healthy older adults (age: 67.6 ± 2.2 years, 7 women and 3 men) without previous experience in resistance training were recruited. Blood samples were collected at baseline and after a 12-week resistance training. Next-generation sequencing was used to determine circulating miRNA responses to chronic resistance training. Results: After the 12-week training, physical functions including grip strength, lower body strength and endurance, and walking capacity were improved in the older adults, while the serum levels of leptin (from 18.1 ± 20.0 to 14.9 ± 17.6 ng/mL, p = 0.029) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα; from 4.4 ± 0.6 to 4.0 ± 0.6 pg/mL, p < 0.001) were significantly decreased. In addition, adipogenesis-related miRNAs (miR-103a-3p, -103b, -143-5p, -146b-3p, -146b-5p, -17-5p, -181a-2-3p, -181b-5p, -199a-5p, -204-3p, and -378c), anti-adipogenesis-related miRNAs (miR-155-3p, -448, and -363-3p), myogenesis-related miRNAs (miR-125b-1-3p, -128-3p, -133a-3p, 155-3p, -181a-2-3p, -181b-5p, -199a-5p, -223-3p, and -499a-5p), and inflammation-related miRNAs (miR-146b-3p, -146b-5p, -155-3p, -181a-2-3p, and -181b-5p) were changed significantly in the older adults after training (fold change >2, p < 0.05). The log2 fold change of miRNA-125-1-3p was inversely correlated with delta walking time (R = -0.685, p = 0.029) and change in insulin-like growth factor 1 (R = -0.644, p = 0.044). Conclusions: Our results can help explain the link between specific circulating miRNAs and beneficial effects of resistance training on functional and physiological adaptations in older adults.
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