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Skeletal muscle protein metabolism in the elderly: Interventions to counteract the 'anabolic resistance' of ageing

DOI: 10.1186/1743-7075-8-68

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Demographics indicate that the world's population aged 60 years and over will more than triple within 50 years from 600 million in the year 2000, to more than 2 billion by 2050 [1]. As a result of this the fastest growing sub-population of society, in the developed world, is adults aged ≥ 80 [1]. This presents issues for health care for which we may well be ill-prepared. For example, aging is accompanied by numerous increasingly prevalent clinical conditions such as rheumatoid- and osteo-arthritis, vascular disease, Type II diabetes, and osteoporosis that require extensive health care resources, which can lessen the quality of life, and reduce independence [2].Contributing to the risk of these diseases or as a direct predictor of disability itself, is the slow and inevitable age-related decline in skeletal muscle mass, referred to as sarcopenia [2]. Age related sarcopenia, particularly of type II muscle fibres, is accompanied by a decline in strength which has consequences for physical mobility/function and is associated with a greater incidence of falls in the elderly [2-4]. Although we will all lose muscle mass as we age, individual differences in: i) the rate of loss in muscle mass, ii) the age at which muscle mass starts to decline, and iii) an individual's peak muscle mass, determine the impact sarcopenia has on functional ability. Age-related sarcopenia begins in our 4-5th decade and proceeds at ~0.6% annually thereafter [5]. Such a rate of sarcopenic muscle mass loss would not likely have overly dire consequences; however, during periods of muscle disuse/unloading that occur with increasing frequency in the elderly, for example, due to illness or hospitalization, the rate of sarcopenic muscle loss is exacerbated [6]. Following such periods of disuse, even something as benign as a reduction in daily step counts [6], can accelerate sarcopenic muscle loss, from which it is more difficult for the elderly to recover [7]. Thus, there is a clear need to improve our


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