Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers identify mechanism that could help old muscle grow


Sarcopenia – the significant loss of muscle mass and function that can occur as we age – is associated with many chronic conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity.

In findings published online ahead of publication in the September 2014 issue of the FASEB Journal, researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University identify a muscle-building mechanism that could be important in addressing sarcopenia.

When people strength train the body responds by making muscle. The researchers recruited 16 healthy but sedentary men to perform a single bout of resistance exercise to trigger muscle growth and examined tissue samples taken before and six hours after the exercise. Half of the men were in their twenties and the other half in their seventies.

"In order for the body to make proteins that build muscle, certain genes need to be turned on," said lead author Donato A. Rivas, Ph.D., a scientist in the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA at Tufts University. "We noticed the older people had a lot fewer genes turned on compared to the younger people, showing us their muscles weren't responding as well to the exercise."

Rivas and colleagues observed that the level of microRNAs, small RNA molecules that have a prominent role in regulating genes, was lower in the muscle tissue of the older men, compared to younger men. "One of the steps in building muscle seems to be missing in the older men, preventing them from responding to the exercise as strongly as the younger men did," Rivas said. "It is possible that the suppression of these microRNAs is setting off a chain of events that is causing older people to be less efficient in developing muscle."

With the population of older adults in the United States projected to increase significantly in the coming decades, more effective sarcopenia treatment and prevention could help control healthcare costs. "Age-related muscle loss has been associated with a myriad of other health problems," said senior author Roger A. Fielding, Ph.D., director of the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA at Tufts University.

"Muscle mass is closely tied to our metabolism and losing it increases the risk of developing metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. We also know that a program of moderate physical activity, including resistance exercises, can strongly influence a person's chances of maintaining their ability to walk after age 70."

In addition to resistance exercises, scientists are exploring different approaches to preserving and building muscle mass in older adults. "A few studies suggest gene therapy, nutrient supplementation or hormone replacement therapy can assist with building muscle," said Fielding, who is also a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and the Tufts University School of Medicine. "Our identification of a possible microRNA target could help advance the study of these largely untested, but promising approaches to promoting muscle growth in older people."

The authors note the small size of the study necessitates future research in clinical models and in men and women, particularly those who have sarcopenia.


The researchers were supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture under agreement no. 58-1950-0014, the Boston Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, and the William Randolph Hearst Fellowship in Clinical and Translational Research.

Rivas DA, Lessard SJ, Rice NP, Lustgarden MS, So K, Goodyear LJ, Parnell LD and Fielding RA. "Diminished skeletal muscle microRNA expression with aging is associated with attenuated muscle plasticity and inhibition of IGF-1 signaling." The FASEB Journal. Published online ahead of print June 13, 2014. In print: September 2014. doi10.1096/fj.14-254490.

For three decades, the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University has studied the relationship between good nutrition and good health in aging populations. Tufts research scientists work with federal agencies to establish the USDA Dietary Guidelines, the Dietary Reference Intakes, and other significant public policies. The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is the only independent school of nutrition in the United States. The school's eight degree programs, which focus on questions relating to famine, hunger, poverty, and communications, are renowned for the application of scientific research to national and international policy.

Andrea Grossman | Eurek Alert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

nachricht Breakthrough in Mapping Nicotine Addiction Could Help Researchers Improve Treatment
04.10.2016 | UT Southwestern Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>