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Restoring muscle mass

Researchers have found a compound that restores muscle growth in elderly mice by up to 80 percent.

“We’ll have to see if this plays out in people, but you may actually be able to rescue muscle mass in an aging population,” says Leonard Guarente, a member of the team of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in America, who successfully restored blood vessel growth in aging rodents.

The researchers examined cells that make up the inner lining of blood vessels in mammals. They specifically investigated sirtuins, a family of protein molecules that have previously been dubbed “longevity proteins”.

Endurance in people typically declines with age, in part because blood vessels lose their capacity to deliver oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissue. Guarente and his colleagues found that sirtuins restored the growth of blood vessels and muscle, boosting the endurance in elderly mice by up to 80 percent.

If the findings translate to humans, this restoration of muscle mass could also help to combat age-related frailty and other debilitating conditions.

Studies in humans have shown that age-related muscle loss can be partially staved off with exercise, especially weight training. If validated in humans, boosting sirtuin levels could also help retain muscle mass.

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