A study published in The FASEB Journal found that dysfunction of the mitochondria can harm muscle health and eventually lead to atrophy or wasting away.
"Mitochondrial dysfunction is a key feature of several muscle diseases, but treatments are currently limited," said study author Dr. Timothy Etheridge.
Researchers from the University of Exeter, alongside the University of Nottingham, in the U.K. and Tohoku University in Japan, aimed to explore the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in muscle cell deterioration. They analyzed data on a species of worm called Caenorhabditis elegans — which was previously used on another muscle study in the International Space Station due to the worms' muscle cells having similarities to those of humans.
For this study, the researchers administered experimental drugs on C. elegans to inhibit certain enzymes that degrade collagen, the results of which revealed that limiting these enzymes also suppressed muscle decline caused by dysfunctional mitochondria. The findings show that mitochondrial dysfunction causes calcium to build up in the cells, which, in turn, triggers the aforementioned enzymes that start degrading collagen. Collagen is particularly important because it provides structure to the outside of the cells. Thus, degrading this collage destabilizes the muscle cells, which then results in muscle decline.
Also, the researchers saw the same effect in the worms used to model Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which is known to cause severe muscle weakness.
The researchers suggest that more research is needed. Still, their findings raise the prospect of discovering new therapies that are effective at delaying muscle degradation and atrophy caused by aging and other conditions like Duchenne.
A study published in the journal Osteoporosis International claims that a combination of both exercise and nutritional intervention is one of the best ways to keep muscle decline at bay and improve muscle mass, strength, and physical performance in older people. For example, exercises like resistance training, balance training, and aerobics done regularly can significantly improve your muscle health. Here are a few activities you can try:
Muscle loss and decline can also be triggered by being deficient in certain nutrients. Aim to get higher doses of essential nutrients like protein, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and creatine to promote muscle growth and even enhance the beneficial effects of the exercises mentioned above. Protein, in particular, can directly signal muscles to build themselves up and strengthen. However, as people age, they become more resistant to this signal. This shows the importance of eating much more of these nutrients to get the most out of them. (Related: Muscle loss halted with alkaline diet and vitamins.)
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