Muscle protein metabolism in the elderly: Influence of nutrition and exercise

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Although the causes of sarcopenia are multi-factorial, at least some, such as poor nutrition and inactivity, may be preventable. Changes in muscle mass must be a result of net muscle protein breakdown over that particular time period. Stable isotope methodology has been used to examine the metabolic basis of muscle loss. Net muscle protein breakdown may occur due to a decrease in the basal level of muscle protein synthesis. However, changes of this type would likely be of small magnitude and undetectable by current methodology. Hormonal mediators may also be important, especially in association with forced inactivity. Net muscle protein breakdown may be also attributed to alterations in the periods of net muscle protein synthesis and breakdown each day. Reduced activity, combined with ineffectual nutrient intake, could lead to decreased net muscle protein balance. Chronic resistance exercise training clearly is an effective means of increasing muscle mass and strength in elderly individuals. Although sometimes limited, acute metabolic studies provide valuable information for maintenance of muscle mass with age.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)588-606
Number of pages19
JournalCanadian Journal of Applied Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001