Sarcopenia – an age-related loss of muscle mass and strength – is a significant contributor of frailty in the elderly. It affects an individual’s gait speed, balance, and overall ability to perform daily tasks. With an increase in the ageing population, this debilitating health condition is becoming a serious global public health epidemic.
Through a study by researchers from the Singapore Institute of Clinical Sciences (SICS) and the National University of Singapore (NUS), and in collaboration with Nestlé Research and the EpiGen Global Research Consortium, researchers have identified the mechanisms involved in sarcopenia.
By comparing the muscle tissue from older people with sarcopenia across different geographies, the researchers found that the activity of the key energy-producing pathway involved in maintaining muscle strength and function was markedly reduced in the muscles of individuals with sarcopenia. The results also showed that sarcopenia was associated with lower levels of NAD+, a molecule critical for regulating energy production.
This study has allowed researchers to gain fresh insights into the biological mechanisms behind how skeletal muscles lose their mass and strength and why some people develop sarcopenia in old age while other do not.
Associate Professor Stacey Tay from NUS Medicine’s Department of Paediatrics and Lead Clinician from the Singapore Sarcopenia Study shared that, “This study is pivotal in establishing the central role mitochondrial bioenergetics dysfunction plays in the development of sarcopenia and therefore offers a hope to modify outcomes by improving mitochondrial function through available drugs, exercise and nutrition.”
Adjunct Assistant Professor Neerja Karnani from the Department of Biochemistry and one of the lead authors of this study added, “The study is a substantial leap in this direction, as it unfolds the mechanisms compromised within the muscle of susceptible individuals, and is also generic to geographically diverse populations.”
Find out more about the study here.