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Muscle: 'Hard to build, easy to lose' as you age
Date:9/11/2009

Have you ever noticed that people have thinner arms and legs as they get older? As we age it becomes harder to keep our muscles healthy. They get smaller, which decreases strength and increases the likelihood of falls and fractures. New research is showing how this happens and what to do about it.

A team of Nottingham researchers has already shown that when older people eat, they cannot make muscle as fast as the young. Now they've found that the suppression of muscle breakdown, which also happens during feeding, is blunted with age.

The scientists and doctors at The University of Nottingham Schools of Graduate Entry Medicine and Biomedical Sciences believe that a 'double whammy' affects people aged over 65. However the team think that weight training may "rejuvenate" muscle blood flow and help retain muscle for older people.

These results may explain the ongoing loss of muscle in older people: when they eat they don't build enough muscle with the protein in food; also, the insulin (a hormone released during a meal) fails to shut down the muscle breakdown that rises between meals and overnight. Normally, in young people, insulin acts to slow muscle breakdown. Common to these problems may be a failure to deliver nutrients and hormones to muscle because of a poorer blood supply.

The work has been done by Michael Rennie, Professor of Clinical Physiology, and Dr Emilie Wilkes, and their colleagues at The University of Nottingham. The research was funded by the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) as part of ongoing work on age-related muscle wasting and how to lessen that effect.

Research just published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared one group of people in their late 60s to a group of 25-year-olds, with equal numbers of men and women. Professor Rennie said "We studied our subjects first before breakfast and then after giving them a small amount of insuli
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Contact: Professor Michael Rennie
michael.rennie@nottingham.ac.uk
44-133-272-4603
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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