(Montreal) A team of Montreal researchers is trying to unravel the mysteries of muscle aging as part of a project that could one day lead to more effective therapeutic interventions.
“We are trying to understand in humans what are the mechanisms associated with the loss of muscle mass and strength,” said one of the project managers, Professor Gilles Gouspilou from the Department of Physical Activity Sciences at the University of Quebec in Montreal.
Researchers from McGill and Montreal universities are also participating in the project.
In particular, muscle aging is primarily determined by the dysfunction of mitochondria (structures sometimes described as the generators of cells) or a change in the integrity of neuromuscular junctions, i.e. the communication between them. Motor neurons and muscles.
“It is very well established in animals, but there are few studies in humans, especially because it is very difficult to access the neuromuscular junctions, explained Professor Kouspilou. It is not an easy task. »
Researchers will try to determine whether physical activity offers protection against these two potential causes of muscle aging, he says.
“We know that physical activity is one of the most effective ways to control the muscle dysfunction that develops with ageing, but the mechanisms by which physical activity exerts its beneficial effects are still poorly understood,” said Prof. Kouspilou.
So the idea of the project is to first identify what’s going wrong, the researcher said, to try to guide future treatment strategies, for example by avoiding preserving inactive muscle mass.
A better understanding of how muscle aging occurs in humans is “really fundamental,” he said.
Skeletal muscle can make up half of a normal-weight person’s body weight, making it the most important type of tissue in the entire body. Healthy muscles are linked to many health benefits, while muscle failure can cause everything from simple weakness to insulin resistance.
The researchers have so far recruited 140 of the 180 participants they wanted to stay. They are looking for men who don’t smoke, don’t suffer from uncontrolled chronic diseases and don’t consume more than two glasses of alcohol a day.
Disabled participants who want to get back in shape will be offered a three-month training program.
All participants were required to complete three two-hour site visits, one of which included a muscle biopsy.