Skeletal muscle is responsible for 70-80% of insulin-dependent glucose disposal. Therefore, muscle adaptations either to increased levels of contractile activity (e.g. exercise), or to disuse and metabolic insults (e.g. oxidative stress and high-fat diet) have critical impacts on peripheral insulin sensitivity, whole-body metabolic status and cardiovascular disease risk. My research interest is on the mechanisms of skeletal muscle metabolic adaptation to exercise and to metabolic insults that can lead to insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease.
I received my PhD in 2008 from the University of Florida. My dissertation studies focused on the mechanisms by which Nitric Oxide (NO), at low levels, positively regulates AMPK signaling, impacting PGC-1alpha expression and causing GLUT4 and mitochondrial genes to be upregulated in skeletal muscle.
In the Yan Lab I’ve been involved in two lines of research: a) the role of the different isoforms of p38MAPK (α, β, γ) in skeletal muscle adaptation; and b) the role of autophagy in skeletal muscle physiology. The ultimate goal of these experiments is to identify and characterize potential pharmacological targets for therapies aiming at improving muscle function and metabolic efficiency.

Vitor A. Lira, Ph.D.
Post-doctoral Fellow

Phone: (434)982-4473, Fax: (434)982-3139, e-mail:


  1. Yan Z, Okutsu M, Akhtar YN, Lira VA. Regulation of exercise-induced fiber type transformation, mitochondrial biogenesis, and angiogenisis in skeletal muscle. J Appl Physiol [Epub ahead of print].
  2. 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 31:215-225, 2010.
  3. 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 588:3551-3566, 2010.  
  4. 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 299:E145-E161, 2010.
  5. 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.
  6. Drenning JA, Lira VA, Soltow QA, Canon CN, Valera LM, Brown DL, Criswell DS. Endothelial nitric oxide synthase is involved in calcium-induced Akt signaling in mouse skeletal muscle. Nitric Oxide 21:192-200, 2009.
  7. Betters JL, Lira VA, Soltow QA, Drenning JA, Criswell DS. Supplemental nitric oxide augments satellite cell activity on cultured myofibers from aged mice. Exp Gerontol 43:1094-1101, 2008.
  8. Polito MD, Simão R, Lira VA, Nóbrega AC, Farinatti PTV. Discontinuous sets of knee extensions induce higher cardiovascular responses in comparison to continuous ones. Arq Bras Cardiol 90:350-355, 2008.
  9. Drenning, JA, Lira VA, Simmons CG, Soltow QA, Sellman JE, Criswell DS. Nitric oxide facilitates NFAT-dependent transcription in mouse myotubes. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 294:C1088-95, 2008.
  10. Betters JL, Long JHD, Howe K, Braith RW, Soltow QA, Lira VA, Criswell DS. Nitric oxide reverses prednisolone-induced muscle satellite cell dysfunction. Muscle & Nerve 37:203-209,2008.
  11. Lira VA, Soltow QA, Long JHD, Betters JL, Sellman JE, Criswell DS. Nitric Oxide increases GLUT4 expression and regulates AMPK signaling in skeletal muscle. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 293(4): E1062-1068, 2007.
  12. Polito MD, Farinatti PTV, Lira VA, Nobrega AC. Blood pressure assessment during resistance exercise: comparison between auscultation and Finapres. Blood Pressure Monitoring 12: 81-86, 2007.
  13. Long JHD, Lira VA, Sellman JE, Soltow QA, Betters JL, Criswell DS. Arginine supplementation induces myoblast fusion via augmentation of nitric oxide production. Skeletal Muscle and Cell Motility Research 27:577-584, 2006.
  14. Soltow QA, Betters JL, Sellman JE, Lira VA, Long JHD, Criswell DS. Ibuprofen inhibits skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Med Sci Sports Exerc 38: 840-846, 2006.
  15. Sellman JE, DeRuisseau KC, Betters JL, Lira VA, Soltow QA, Selsby JT, Criswell DS. In vivo inhibition of nitric oxide synthase impairs upregulation of contractile protein mRNA in overloaded plantaris muscle. J Appl Physiol 100: 258-265, 2006.