Sarcopenia, the age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass, is a significant public health concern that continues to grow in relevance as the population ages. Certain conditions have the strong potential to coincide with sarcopenia to accelerate the progression of muscle atrophy in older adults. Among these conditions are co-morbid diseases common to older individuals such as cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, and peripheral artery disease. Furthermore, behaviors such as poor nutrition and physical inactivity are well-known to contribute to sarcopenia development. However, we argue that these behaviors are not inherent to the development of sarcopenia but rather accelerate its progression. In the present review, we discuss how these factors affect systemic and cellular mechanisms that contribute to skeletal muscle atrophy. In addition, we describe gaps in the literature concerning the role of these factors in accelerating sarcopenia progression. Elucidating biochemical pathways related to accelerated muscle atrophy may allow for improved discovery of therapeutic treatments related to sarcopenia.
Aging; Proteolysis; Satellite Cells; HIV; COPD; Disability
Age-related loss of muscle mass and strength (sarcopenia) leads to a decline in physical function and frailty in the elderly. Among the many proposed underlying causes of sarcopenia, mitochondrial dysfunction is inherent in a variety of aged tissues. The intent of this study was to examine the effect of aging on key groups of regulatory proteins involved in mitochondrial biogenesis and how this relates to physical performance in two groups of sedentary elderly participants, classified as high- and low-functioning based on the Short Physical Performance Battery test. Muscle mass was decreased by 38% and 30% in low-functioning elderly (LFE) participants when compared to young and high-functioning elderly (HFE) participants, respectively, and positively correlated to physical performance. Mitochondrial respiration in permeabilized muscle fibers was reduced (41%) in the LFE group when compared to the young, and this was associated with a 30% decline in COX activity. Levels of key metabolic regulators, SIRT3 and PGC-1α were significantly reduced (50%) in both groups of elderly participants when compared to young. Similarly, the fusion protein OPA1 was lower in muscle from elderly subjects, however no changes were detected in Mfn2, Drp1 or Fis1 among the groups. In contrast, protein import machinery (PIM) components Tom22 and cHsp70 were increased in the LFE group when compared to the young. This study suggests that aging in skeletal muscle is associated with impaired mitochondrial function and altered biogenesis pathways, and that this may contribute to muscle atrophy and the decline in muscle performance observed in the elderly population.
aging; sarcopenia; mitochondria; skeletal muscle; PGC-1α
The lower extremities are important to performing physical activities of daily life. This study investigated lower extremity tissue composition, i.e. muscle and fat volumes, in young and older adults and the relative importance of individual tissue compartments to the physical function of older adults. A total of 43 older (age 78.3 ± 5.6 yr) and 20 younger (age 23.8 ± 3.9 yr) healthy men and women participated in the study. Older participants were further classified as either high- (HF) or low-functioning (LF) according to the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB). Magnetic resonance images were used to determine the volumes of skeletal muscle, subcutaneous fat (SAT), and intermuscular fat (IMAT) in the thigh (femoral) and calf (tibiofibular) regions. After adjusting for the sex of participants, younger participants had more femoral muscle mass than older adults (p < 0.001 for between group differences) as well as less femoral IMAT (p = 0.008) and tibiofibular IMAT (p < 0.001). Femoral muscle was the only tissue compartment demonstrating a significant difference between the two older groups, with HF participants having 31% more femoral muscle mass than LF participants (mean difference = 103.0 ± 34.0 cm3; p = 0.011). In subsequent multiple regression models including tissue compartments and demographic confounders, femoral muscle was the primary compartment associated with both SPPB score (r2 = 0.264, p= 0.001) and 4-meter gait speed (r2 = 0.187, p= 0.007). These data suggest that aging affects all lower extremity compartments, but femoral muscle mass is the major compartment associated with physical function in older adults.
Aging; Sarcopenia; Older Adults; Disability; SPPB; IMAT
Obese older adults are particularly susceptible to sarcopenia and have a higher prevalence of disability than their peers of normal weight. Interventions to improve body composition in late life are crucial to maintaining independence. The main mechanisms underlying sarcopenia have not been determined conclusively, but chronic inflammation, apoptosis, and impaired mitochondrial function are believed to play important roles. It has yet to be determined whether impaired cellular quality control mechanisms contribute to this process. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of a 6-month weight loss program combined with moderate-intensity exercise on the cellular quality control mechanisms autophagy and ubiquitin-proteasome, as well as on inflammation, apoptosis, and mitochondrial function, in the skeletal muscle of older obese women. The intervention resulted in significant weight loss (8.0 ± 3.9 % vs. 0.4 ± 3.1% of baseline weight, p = 0.002) and improvements in walking speed (reduced time to walk 400 meters, − 20.4 ± 16% vs. − 2.5 ± 12%, p = 0.03). In the intervention group, we observed a three-fold increase in messenger RNA (mRNA) levels of the autophagy regulators LC3B, Atg7, and lysosome-associated membrane protein-2 (LAMP-2) compared to controls. Changes in mRNA levels of FoxO3A and its targets MuRF1, MAFBx, and BNIP3 were on average seven-fold higher in the intervention group compared to controls, but these differences were not statistically significant. Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) mRNA levels were elevated after the intervention, but we did not detect significant changes in the downstream apoptosis markers caspase 8 and 3. Mitochondrial biogenesis markers (PGC1α and TFAm) were increased by the intervention, but this was not accompanied by significant changes in mitochondrial complex content and activity. In conclusion, although exploratory in nature, this study is among the first to report the stimulation of cellular quality control mechanisms elicited by a weight loss and exercise program in older obese women.
Evidence from animal models and preliminary studies in humans indicate that calorie restriction (CR) delays cardiac aging and can prevent cardiovascular disease. These effects are mediated by a wide spectrum of biochemical and cellular adaptations, including redox homeostasis, mitochondrial function, inflammation, apoptosis and autophagy. Despite the beneficial effects of CR, its large-scale implementation is challenged by applicability issues as well as health concerns. However, preclinical studies indicate that specific compounds, such as resveratrol, may mimic many of the effects of CR, thus potentially obviating the need for drastic food intake reductions. Results from ongoing clinical trials will reveal whether the intriguing alternative of CR mimetics represents a safe and effective strategy to promote cardiovascular health and delay cardiac aging in humans.
Cardiovascular disease; oxidative stress; inflammation; apoptosis; autophagy; calorie restriction mimetics
TNF-α-mediated apoptosis is enhanced in aged rodent muscles, suggesting that this pathway may be involved in sarcopenia. Interleukin-15 (IL-15), a muscle-derived anabolic cytokine, mitigates muscle wasting and apoptosis in cachectic rats. This effect is thought to occur through inhibition of TNF-α-triggered apoptosis. We investigated IL-15 signaling and the TNF-α-mediated pathway of apoptosis in the gastrocnemius muscle of Fischer344×Brown Norway rats across the ages of 8, 18, 29 and 37 months, in relation to life-long calorie restriction (CR, 40% calorie intake reduction). Aging caused loss of muscle mass and increased apoptotic DNA fragmentation, which were mitigated by CR. Protein levels of IL-15 and mRNA abundance of IL-15 receptor α-chain decreased in senescent ad libitum (AL) fed rats, but were maintained in CR rodents. Elevations of TNF-α, TNF-receptor 1, cleaved caspase-8 and -3 were observed at advanced age in AL rats. These changes were prevented or mitigated by CR. Our results indicate that aging is associated with decreased IL-15 signaling in rat gastrocnemius muscle, which may contribute to sarcopenia partly through enhanced TNF-α-mediated apoptosis. Preservation of IL-15 signaling by CR may therefore represent a further mechanism contributing to the anti-aging effect of this dietary intervention in skeletal muscle.
sarcopenia; interleukin-15; tumor necrosis factor-α; calorie restriction; apoptosis
Accelerated apoptosis in skeletal muscle is increasingly recognized as a potential mechanism contributing to the development of sarcopenia of aging and disuse muscle atrophy. Given their central role in the regulation of apoptosis, mitochondria are regarded as key players in the pathogenesis of myocyte loss during aging and other atrophying conditions. Oxidative damage to mitochondrial constituents, impaired respiration and altered mitochondrial turnover have been proposed as potential triggering events for mitochondrial apoptotic signaling. In addition, iron accumulation within mitochondria may enhance the susceptibility to apoptosis during the development of sarcopenia and possibly acute muscle atrophy, likely through exacerbation of oxidative stress. Mitochondria can induce myocyte apoptosis via both caspase-dependent and independent pathways, although the apoptogenic mediators involved may be different depending on age, muscle type and specific atrophying conditions. Despite the considerable advances made, additional research is necessary to establish a definite causal link between apoptotic signaling and the development of sarcopenia and acute atrophy. Furthermore, a translational effort is required to determine the role played by apoptosis in the pathogenesis of sarcopenia and disuse-induced muscle loss in human subjects.
Mitochondria; Iron; Sarcopenia; Muscle atrophy; Apoptosis; Caspases; Endonuclease G; Apoptosis-inducing factor
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations lead to decrements in mitochondrial function and accelerated rates of these mutations has been linked to skeletal muscle loss (sarcopenia). The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of mtDNA mutations on mitochondrial quality control processes in skeletal muscle from animals (young; 3–6 months and older; 8–15 months) expressing a proofreading-deficient version of mtDNA polymerase gamma (PolG). This progeroid aging model exhibits elevated mtDNA mutation rates, mitochondrial dysfunction, and a premature aging phenotype that includes sarcopenia. We found increased expression of the mitochondrial biogenesis regulator peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator-1α (PGC-1α) and its target proteins, nuclear respiratory factor 1 (NRF-1) and mitochondrial transcription factor A (Tfam) in PolG animals compared to wild-type (WT) (P<0.05). Muscle from older PolG animals displayed higher mitochondrial fission protein 1 (Fis1) concurrent with greater induction of autophagy, as indicated by changes in Atg5 and p62 protein content (P<0.05). Additionally, levels of the Tom22 import protein were higher in PolG animals when compared to WT (P<0.05). In contrast, muscle from normally-aged animals exhibited a distinctly different expression profile compared to PolG animals. Older WT animals appeared to have higher fusion (greater Mfn1/Mfn2, and lower Fis1) and lower autophagy (Beclin-1 and p62) compared to young WT suggesting that autophagy is impaired in aging muscle. In conclusion, muscle from mtDNA mutator mice display higher mitochondrial fission and autophagy levels that likely contribute to the sarcopenic phenotype observed in premature aging and this differs from the response observed in normally-aged muscle.
Preclinical studies strongly suggest that accelerated apoptosis in skeletal myocytes may be involved in the pathogenesis of sarcopenia. However, evidence in humans is sparse. In the present study, we investigated whether apoptotic signaling in the skeletal muscle was associated with indices of muscle mass and function in older persons.
Community-dwelling older adults were categorized into high-functioning (HF) or low-functioning (LF) groups according to their short physical performance battery (SPPB) summary score. Participants underwent an isokinetic knee extensor strength test and 3-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging of the thigh. Vastus lateralis muscle samples were obtained by percutaneous needle biopsy and assayed for the expression of a set of apoptotic signaling proteins. Age, sex, number of comorbid conditions and medications as well as knee extensor strength were not different between groups. HF participants displayed greater thigh muscle volume compared with LF persons. Multivariate partial least squares (PLS) regressions showed significant correlations between caspase-dependent apoptotic signaling proteins and the muscular percentage of thigh volume (R2 = 0.78; Q2 = 0.61) as well as gait speed (R2 = 0.81; Q2 = 0.56). Significant variables in the PLS model of percent muscle volume were active caspase-8, cleaved caspase-3, cytosolic cytochrome c and mitochondrial Bak. The regression model of gait speed was mainly described by cleaved caspase-3 and mitochondrial Bax and Bak. PLS predictive apoptotic variables did not differ between functional groups. No correlation was determined between apoptotic signaling proteins and muscle strength or quality (strength per unit volume).
Data from this exploratory study show for the first time that apoptotic signaling is correlated with indices of muscle mass and function in a cohort of community-dwelling older persons. Future larger-scale studies are needed to corroborate these preliminary findings and determine if down-regulation of apoptotic signaling in skeletal myocytes will provide improvements in the muscle mass and functional status of older persons.