Heikki Kainulainen


Heikki Kainulainen, Ph.D.
Professor of exercise physiology

Neuromuscular Research Center
Department of Biology of Physical Activity
University of Jyväskylä
PO Box 35 (Viveca)
40014 Jyväskylän yliopisto

e-mail: heikki.kainulainen@jyu.fi
phone: +358 50 3302901


Research interests


My research exploits information and techniques from different disciplines in order to explain the causal relations of physical activity and metabolic diseases (such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease). One line of the research goes deeper into the connections of physical activity and cognition. In most of the studies we use experimental models that depict different stages of inherited or acquired aerobic performance and risk factors for metabolic diseases. For instance, by analysing the expression of genes globally and individually we have shown the close relationship of aerobic metabolism, i.e. mitochondria – the powerhouses of cells – and especially lipid metabolism to physical performance and metabolic risk factors. Human studies are mainly performed in collaboration with other research groups (e.g. twin studies with prof. Urho Kujala, Department of Health Sciences). We participate in international projects such as  META-PREDICT, an EU FP7 funded project. Collaborative work is done with several research groups in Finland and e.g. in United Kingdom and USA.


Current research projects


Developing predictors of the health benefits of exercise for individuals – META-PREDICT

Active, Fit and Smart - Effects of Physical Activity and Fitness on the Cognitive Prerequisites of Learning - AFIS

Lipid droplets and lipid droplet coat proteins of skeletal muscle and liver cells - effects of exercise and diet

Exercise, obesity and metabolic diseases - OMDEx



Selected publications 


Rinnankoski-Tuikka R, Hulmi JJ, Torvinen S, Silvennoinen M, Lehti M, Kivelä R, Reunanen H, Kujala UM, Kainulainen H. Lipid droplet-associated proteins in high-fat fed mice with the effects of voluntary running and diet change. Metabolism - Clinical and Experimental (in press)

Kainulainen H, Hulmi JJ, Kujala UM. Potential role of branched-chain amino acid catabolism in regulating fat oxidation. Exerc Sports Sci Rev 2013;41:194-200.

Kujala UM, Mäkinen V-P, Heinonen I, Soininen P, Kangas AJ, Leskinen TH, Rahkila P, Würtz P, Kovanen V, Cheng S, Sipilä S, Hirvensalo M, Telama R, Tammelin T, Savolainen MJ, Pouta A, O’Reilly PF, Mäntyselkä P, Viikari J, Kähönen M, Lehtimäki T, Elliott P, Vanhala MJ, Raitakari OT, Järvelin M-R, Kaprio J, Kainulainen H, Ala-Korpela M. Long-term leisure-time physical activity and serum metabolome. Circulation 2013;127:340-348.

Silvennoinen M, Rinnankoski-Tuikka R, Vuento M, Hulmi JJ, Torvinen S, Lehti M, Kivelä R, Kainulainen H. High-fat feeding induces angiogenesis in skeletal muscle and activates angiogenic pathways in capillaries. Angiogenesis 2013;16:297-307.

Torvinen S, Silvennoinen M, Gröhn O, Närväinen J, Tuunanen P, Piitulainen H, Koch LG, Britton SL, Kainulainen H: Rats bred for low aerobic capacity become promptly fatigued and have slow metabolic recovery after stimulated, maximal muscle contractions. PLoS One 7(11):e48345, 2012.

Rinnankoski-Tuikka R, Silvennoinen M, Torvinen S, Hulmi JJ, Lehti M, Kivelä R, Reunanen H, Kainulainen H: Effects of high-fat diet and physical activity on murine muscle mitochondria and PDK4. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2012;9:53, 2012.

Wikgren J,  Mertikas G, Raussi P, Tirkkonen R, Äyräväinen L, Pelto-Huikko M,  Koch LG, Britton SL, Kainulainen H: Selective breeding for aerobic capacity affects cognitive but not motor learning in rats. Physiol Behav 2012;106:95-100.

Hulmi JJ, Silvennoinen M, Lehti M, Kivelä R, Kainulainen H. Altered REDD1, myostatin and Akt/mTOR/FoxO/MAPK signaling in streptozotocin-induced diabetic muscle atrophy. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2012;302:E307-315.

Kontro H, Hulmi JJ, Rahkila P, Kainulainen H: Cellular and tissue expression of DAPIT, a phylogenetically conserved peptide. Eur J Histochem 56(2):e18, 2012.

Kivelä R, Silvennoinen M, Lehti M, Rinnankoski-Tuikka R, Purhonen T, Ketola T, Pullinen K, Vuento M, Mutanen N,  Sartor MA, Reunanen H,  Koch LG, Britton SL, Kainulainen H: Gene expression centroids that link with low intrinsic aerobic exercise capacity and complex disease risk. FASEB J  2010;24:4565-4574.

 Leskinen T, Rinnankoski-Tuikka R, Rintala M, Seppänen-Laakso T, Pöllänen E, Alen M, Sipilä S, Kaprio J, Kovanen V, Rahkila P, Oresic M, Kainulainen H, Kujala UM. Differences in muscle and adipose tissue gene expression and cardio-metabolic risk factors in the members of physical activity discordant twin pairs. PLoS One. 2010 Sep 16;5(9).