• I am a VA Health Science Specialist at the Birmingham VAMC and an assistant professor in the department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology. My research interests look into how paralysis changes muscle mitochondrial function and systemic metabolism. We use transgenic mice with a muscle specific knockout of connexin43/45 hemichannels to systematically understand their role in creating muscle dysfunction after paralysis. Additional studies in our lab repurpose current drugs and test nutraceuticals after contusion spinal cord injury. Metabolomics, high resolution microscopy, mouse behavioral tests and standard protein and RNA biochemistry/molecular biology are the primary outcomes of our studies.
  • Selected Publications

    Academic Article

    Year Title Altmetric
    2022 Muscle transcriptomic circuits linked to periarticular physiology in end-stage osteoarthritisPhysiological Genomics.  54:501-513. 2022
    2022 RNA-sequencing Reveals a Gene Expression Signature in Skeletal Muscle of a Mouse Model of Age-associated Postoperative Functional Decline 2022
    2022 Notch, Numb and Numb-like responses to exercise-induced muscle damage in human skeletal muscleExperimental Physiology.  107:800-806. 2022
    2022 SS-31 does not prevent or reduce muscle atrophy 7 days after a 65 kdyne contusion spinal cord injury in young male micePhysiological Reports.  10. 2022
    2022 Numb is required for optimal contraction of skeletal muscleJournal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle.  13:454-466. 2022
    2022 Mini-review: Local and downstream responses to the neuromuscular junction: Potential roles for integrins, connexins and ephrins in altering muscle characteristics and functionNeuroscience Letters.  768. 2022
    2021 Pharmacologic approaches to prevent skeletal muscle atrophy after spinal cord injuryCurrent Opinion in Pharmacology.  60:193-199. 2021
    2021 Numb is required for optimal contraction of skeletal muscle 2021
    2021 Mechanisms of exercise as a preventative measure to muscle wasting 2021
    2021 Spinal Cord Injury Reduces Serum Levels of Fibroblast Growth Factor-21 and Impairs Its Signaling Pathways in Liver and Adipose Tissue in MiceFrontiers in Endocrinology.  12. 2021
    2021 Spinal Cord Injury Reduces Serum Levels of Fibroblast Growth Factor-21 and Impairs its Signaling Pathways in Liver and Adipose Tissue in Mice 2021
    2021 A 50 kdyne contusion spinal cord injury with or without the drug SS-31 was not associated with major changes in muscle mass or gene expression 14 d after injury in young male micePhysiological Reports.  9. 2021
    2020 Locomotor training with adjuvant testosterone preserves cancellous bone and promotes muscle plasticity in male rats after severe spinal cord injuryJournal of Neuroscience Research.  98:843-868. 2020
    2020 Sixteen weeks of testosterone with or without evoked resistance training on protein expression, fiber hypertrophy and mitochondrial health after spinal cord injuryJournal of Applied Physiology.  128:1487-1496. 2020
    2020 Contusion spinal cord injury upregulates p53 protein expression in rat soleus muscle at multiple timepoints but not key senescence cytokinesPhysiological Reports.  8. 2020
    2020 Myokines in skeletal muscle physiology and metabolism: Recent advances and future perspectivesActa Physiologica.  228. 2020
    2019 Key glycolytic metabolites in paralyzed skeletal muscle are altered seven days after spinal cord injury in MiceJournal of Neurotrauma.  36:2722-2731. 2019
    2019 Mitochondrial health and muscle plasticity after spinal cord injuryEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology.  119:315-331. 2019
    2018 Alterations in mitochondrial fission, fusion, and mitophagic protein expression in the gastrocnemius of mice after a sciatic nerve transectionMuscle and Nerve.  58:592-599. 2018
    2018 Plasma adiponectin levels are correlated with body composition, metabolic profiles, and mitochondrial markers in individuals with chronic spinal cord injurySpinal Cord.  56:863-872. 2018
    2017 Abundance in proteins expressed after functional electrical stimulation cycling or arm cycling ergometry training in persons with chronic spinal cord injuryJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine.  40:439-448. 2017
    2017 Spinal Cord Injury Leads to Hyperoxidation and Nitrosylation of Skeletal Muscle Ryanodine Receptor-1 Associated with Upregulation of Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide Phosphate Oxidase 4Journal of Neurotrauma.  34:2069-2074. 2017
    2017 Recombinant myostatin reduces highly expressed microRNAs in differentiating C2C12 cellsBiochemistry and Biophysics Reports.  9:273-280. 2017
    2017 Muscle–bone interactions: Movement in the field of mechano–humoral coupling of muscle and boneAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences.  1402:10-17. 2017
    2016 The signature of MicroRNA dysregulation in muscle paralyzed by spinal cord injury includes downregulation of MicroRNAs that target myostatin signalingPLoS One.  11. 2016
    2016 Focal adhesion kinase signaling is decreased 56 days following spinal cord injury in rat gastrocnemiusSpinal Cord.  54:502-509. 2016
    2016 A soluble activin receptor IIB fails to prevent muscle atrophy in a mouse model of spinal cord injuryJournal of Neurotrauma.  33:1128-1135. 2016
    2015 Focal adhesion kinase and its role in skeletal muscleJournal of Muscle Research and Cell Motility.  36:305-315. 2015
    2015 Short-wave diathermy pretreatment and inflammatory myokine response after high-intensity eccentric exerciseJournal of Athletic Training.  50:612-620. 2015
    2015 Methods comparison: Assessing agreement of physiological parameters obtained from exercise on two different cycle ergometersJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research.  29:1139-1145. 2015
    2015 Changes in α7β1 integrin signaling after eccentric exercise in heat-shocked rat soleusMuscle and Nerve.  51:562-568. 2015
    2015 Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization: Effects on the properties of human plantar flexorsInternational Journal of Sports Medicine.  36:197-203. 2015
    2012 Acute heat stress prior to downhill running may enhance skeletal muscle remodelingCell Stress and Chaperones.  17:693-705. 2012

    Research Overview

  • Spinal cord injury leads to drastic loss in muscle mass below the area of spinal injury. How paralysis and unloading alters skeletal muscle and muscle mitochondrial function are not well described. One potential mechanism is the de novo appearance of connexin hemichannels in fast twitch muscle fibers. We use a muscle-specific knockdown of connexin43/45 hemichannels to determine how reductions in these proteins alter mitochondrial morphology, muscle and locomotor function, and changes in the metabolomic profiles. Additional focuses of my studies are the role of fitness and health at the time of a spinal cord injury in predicting recovery outcomes in the acute and subacute timeframes after paralysis.
  • Education And Training

  • National Center for the Medical Consequences of Spinal Cord Injury, Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Exercise Physiology, University of Kansas 2014
  • Master of Education in Exercise Physiology, University of Kansas 2010
  • Bachelor's Degree in Spanish Language Teacher Education, The Ohio State University 2008
  • Full Name

  • Zachary Graham