Muscle Tissue Changes with Aging

Ana Fátima Pereira, António José Silva, Aldo Matos Costa, António Miguel Monteiro, Estela Maria Bastos, Mário Cardoso Marques


Sarcopenia is characterized by a progressive generalized decrease of skeletal muscle mass, strength and function with aging. Recently, the genetic determination has been associated with muscle mass and muscle strength in elderly. These two phenotypes of risk are the most commonly recognized and studied for sarcopenia, with heritability ranging from 30 to 85% for muscle strength and 45-90% for muscle mass. It is well known that the development and maintenance of muscle mass in early adulthood reduces the risk of developing sarcopenia and leads to a healthy aging. For that reason it seems important to identify which genetic factors interact with aging and in particular with the musculoskeletal response to exercise in such individuals. This review is designed to summarize the most important and representative studies about the possible association between certain genetic polymorphisms and muscle phenotypes in older populations. Also we will focuses on nutrition and some concerns associated with aging, including the role that exercise can have on reducing the negative effects of this phenomenon. Some results are inconsistent between studies and more replication studies underlying sarcopenia are needed, with larger samples and with different life cycles, particularly in the type and level of physical activity throughout life. In future we believe that further progress in understanding the genetic etiology and the metabolic pathways will provide valuable information on important biological mechanisms underlying the muscle physiology. This will enable better recognition of individuals at higher risk and the ability to more adequately address this debilitating condition.

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