HF (heart failure) and T2D (Type 2 diabetes) associate with detrimental alterations in SkM (skeletal muscle) structure/function. We have demonstrated recently that (−)-ERC (epicatechin-rich cocoa) improves SkM mitochondrial structure [Taub, Ramirez-Sanchez, Ciaraldi, Perkins, Murphy, Naviaux, Hogan, Ceballos, Maisel, Henry et al. (2012) Clin. Trans. Sci. 5, 43–47]. We hypothesized that an improved mitochondrial structure may facilitate the reversal of detrimental alterations in sarcomeric microstructure. In a pilot study, five patients with HF and T2D consumed ERC for 3 months; treadmill testing [V̇O2max (maximum oxygen consumption)] and SkM biopsies were performed. Western blot analysis, immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy were used. We report severe perturbations in components of the DAPC (dystrophin-associated protein complex) as well as sarcomeric microstructure at baseline. ERC induced recovery/enhancement of DAPC protein levels, sarcomeric microstructure and, in a co-ordinated fashion, alterations in markers of SkM growth/differentiation consistent with myofibre regeneration. V̇O2max increased (~24%) but did not reach statistical significance. These initial results warrant further rigorous investigation, since the use of ERC (or pure epicatechin) may represent a safe and novel means of improving muscle function.

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