Tag: muscle loss

The Secret of ‘Rejuvenating’ Blood Transfusions Between Mice

Photo by Kanasi on Unsplash

Researchers have identified an important mediator of youthfulness in mouse muscle, which explains the ‘rejuvenating’ blood transfusions effect between young and old mice. The discovery could also lead to new therapies for age-related muscle loss.

Published in Nature Aging, the study showed that circulating shuttles called extracellular vesicles, or EVs, deliver genetic instructions for the longevity protein known as Klotho to muscle cells. Reduced muscle function and repair in old mice may be driven by aged EVs, which carry fewer instructions than those in young animals.

The findings help further as to understanding why muscle regeneration capacity diminishes with age.

“We’re really excited about this research for a couple of reasons,” said senior author Dr Fabrisia Ambrosio. “In one way, it helps us understand the basic biology of how muscle regeneration works and how it fails to work as we age. Then, taking that information to the next step, we can think about using extracellular vesicles as therapeutics to counteract these age-related defects.”

Decades of research have shown that when old mice are given blood from young mice, youthful features are restored to many cells and tissues. But until now, it was unclear which components of young blood confer these rejuvenating effects.

“Amrita Sahu releaseWe wondered if extracellular vesicles might contribute to muscle regeneration because these couriers travel between cells via the blood and other bodily fluids,” said lead author Dr Amrita Sahu. “Like a message in a bottle, EVs deliver information to target cells.”

Ambrosio and her team collected serum from young mice and injected it into aged mice with injured muscle. Mice that received young serum showed enhanced muscle regeneration and functional recovery compared to those that received a placebo treatment, but the serum’s restorative properties were lost when EVs were removed, indicating that it is these vesicles which deliver the beneficial effects of young blood.

The researchers then found that EVs deliver genetic instructions, or mRNA, encoding the anti-ageing protein Klotho to muscle progenitor cells, important stem cells for muscle regeneration. EVs collected from old mice carried fewer copies of Klotho instructions than those from young mice, causing muscle progenitor cells to produce less of this protein.

With advancing age, muscle doesn’t recover from damage as well because scar tissue is laid down. In earlier work, Ambrosio and her team showed that Klotho is an important regulator of regenerative capacity in muscle progenitor cells and that this protein declines with age.

The new study shows for the first time that age-related shifts in EV cargo contribute to depleted Klotho in aged stem cells, suggesting that EVs could be developed into novel therapies for healing damaged muscle tissue.

“EVs may be beneficial for boosting regenerative capacity of muscle in older individuals and improving functional recovery after an injury,” said Ambrosio. “One of the ideas we’re really excited about is engineering EVs with specific cargoes, so that we can dictate the responses of target cells.”

Beyond muscles, EVs also could help reverse other effects of ageing. Previous work has demonstrated that young blood can boost cognitive performance of aged mice.

Source: University of Pittsburgh

Muscle Atrophy Gene Identified from Mice Sent into Space

Dragon cargo capsule arriving at the International Space Station. Image by SpaceX-Imagery from Pixabay

Researchers from the University of Tsukuba have found a new gene involved in muscle atrophy when they sent mice into space to explore effects of weightlessness on skeletal muscles.

Extended periods of skeletal muscle inactivity or mechanical unloading (bed rest, immobilisation, spaceflight and reduced step) can result in a significant loss of muscle mass and strength which ultimately lead to muscle atrophy. Spaceflight is one of the leading models of understanding muscle atrophy from disuse.

As the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in disuse skeletal muscle atrophy have been studied, several different signaling pathways have been studied to understand their regulatory role in this process. However, large gaps exist in the understanding of the regulatory mechanisms involved, as well as their functional significance.

Prior studies examining the effects of reduced gravity on muscle mass and function have used a ground control group which cannot be directly compared to the space experimental group. Researchers from the University of Tsukuba set out to explore the effects of gravity in mice subjected to the same housing conditions, such as the stresses of launch, landing and cosmic radiation. “In humans, spaceflight causes muscle atrophy and can lead to serious medical problems after return to Earth” says senior author Professor Satoru Takahashi. “This study was designed based on the critical need to understand the molecular mechanisms through which muscle atrophy occurs in conditions of microgravity and artificial gravity.”

Two groups of six mice each were housed onboard the International Space Station for 35 days. One group was subjected to artificial gravity (1g) and the other was left in microgravity. All mice were returned to Earth aboard a Dragon capsule and the team compared the effects of the different onboard environments on skeletal muscles. “To understand what was happening inside the muscles and cells, at the molecular level, we examined the muscle fibers. Our results show that artificial gravity prevents the changes observed in mice subjected to microgravity, including muscle atrophy and changes in gene expression,” explained Prof Takahashi. 

Transcriptional analysis of gene expression showed that the artificial gravity environment prevented altered expression of atrophy-related genes, and also identified other genes possibly associated with atrophy. Specifically, a gene called Cacng1 was identified as possibly having a functional role in myotube atrophy, which previously had no known function, and was shown to have increased activity when muscle atrophy was present.

When muscle fibres were cultured in vitro, ones which had Cacng1 expression upregulated were decreased in diameter by 27.5%. A similar effect was seen in newborn mice with upregulated Cacng1.

This work validated the use of 1g artificial gravity environments in spaceflight for examining the effects of microgravity in muscles. These studies add to the body of knowledge surrounding the mechanisms of muscle atrophy, possibly improving the treatment of related diseases.

Source: Tsukuba University

Journal information: Okada, R., et al. (2021) Transcriptome analysis of gravitational effects on mouse skeletal muscles under microgravity and artificial 1 g onboard environment. Scientific Reports. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-88392-4.

Colorectal Cancer Risk Is Not Reduced by Maintaining Weight

A new study shows that, contrary to conventional wisdom, significant weight changes before treatment do not by themselves increase the mortality risk from colorectal cancer, rather it is changes in body composition.

In a population-based cohort study, for every 5% loss of body weight after colorectal cancer diagnosis had a 41% increased mortality risk.

“The conventional wisdom has been that colorectal cancer patients should avoid losing or gaining weight during treatment,”  explained Dr Justin C Brown, Assistant Professor and Director of Cancer Metabolism Program, Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “But maintaining your weight does not mean your body composition remains the same. Muscle can change quite dramatically, and those changes are associated with a much higher risk of death.”

“This study highlights how body composition can have a powerful impact on long-term health. We at Pennington Biomedical are committed to conducting innovative research to enable cancer survivors around the world to achieve their best possible health,” said Dr John Kirwan, Executive Director.

The study enrolled 1921 patients with stage I-III colorectal cancer, measuring skeletal muscle and body weight at diagnosis and then an average of 15 months later. The definition of stable body weight was a change of less than 5% of weight at diagnosis.

Researchers found having a stable body weight hides changes in skeletal muscle loss. Women were particularly vulnerable to losing muscle. One in five women with stable body weight lost muscle, while less than one in 10 men did.

“More research is needed to determine whether physical activity offers the best solution to prevent muscle loss or fatty deposits in muscle,” Dr Brown said. “But the findings provide colorectal cancer patients with more incentive to engage in physical activity programs that maintain and build muscle.”

Source: News-Medical.Net