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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Biochemistry - Geriatrics - Physiology - Radiology and Medical Imaging

Skeletal Muscle Apoptotic Signaling Predicts Thigh Muscle Volume and Gait Speed in Community-Dwelling Older Persons: An Exploratory Study
Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Author: Emanuele Marzetti et al.

by Emanuele Marzetti, Hazel A. Lees, Todd M. Manini, Thomas W. Buford, Juan M. Aranda, Riccardo Calvani, Giorgio Capuani, Michael Marsiske, Donovan J. Lott, Krista Vandenborne, Roberto Bernabei, Marco Pahor, Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, Stephanie E. Wohlgemuth

Background

Preclinical studies strongly suggest that accelerated apoptosis in skeletal myocytes may be involved in the pathogenesis of sarcopenia. However, evidence in humans is sparse. In the present study, we investigated whether apoptotic signaling in the skeletal muscle was associated with indices of muscle mass and function in older persons.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Community-dwelling older adults were categorized into high-functioning (HF) or low-functioning (LF) groups according to their short physical performance battery (SPPB) summary score. Participants underwent an isokinetic knee extensor strength test and 3-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging of the thigh. Vastus lateralis muscle samples were obtained by percutaneous needle biopsy and assayed for the expression of a set of apoptotic signaling proteins. Age, sex, number of comorbid conditions and medications as well as knee extensor strength were not different between groups. HF participants displayed greater thigh muscle volume compared with LF persons. Multivariate partial least squares (PLS) regressions showed significant correlations between caspase-dependent apoptotic signaling proteins and the muscular percentage of thigh volume (R2?=?0.78; Q2?=?0.61) as well as gait speed (R2?=?0.81; Q2?=?0.56). Significant variables in the PLS model of percent muscle volume were active caspase-8, cleaved caspase-3, cytosolic cytochrome c and mitochondrial Bak. The regression model of gait speed was mainly described by cleaved caspase-3 and mitochondrial Bax and Bak. PLS predictive apoptotic variables did not differ between functional groups. No correlation was determined between apoptotic signaling proteins and muscle strength or quality (strength per unit volume).

Conclusions/Significance

Data from this exploratory study show for the first time that apoptotic signaling is correlated with indices of muscle mass and function in a cohort of community-dwelling older persons. Future larger-scale studies are needed to corroborate these preliminary findings and determine if down-regulation of apoptotic signaling in skeletal myocytes will provide improvements in the muscle mass and functional status of older persons.

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