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Front Aging Neurosci. 2014 Sep 10;6:211. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2014.00211. eCollection 2014.

Mitochondrial involvement and impact in aging skeletal muscle.

Author information

1
Department of Kinesiology, McGill University Health Center, McGill University , Montreal, QC , Canada.

Abstract

Atrophy is a defining feature of aging skeletal muscle that contributes to progressive weakness and an increased risk of mobility impairment, falls, and physical frailty in very advanced age. Amongst the most frequently implicated mechanisms of aging muscle atrophy is mitochondrial dysfunction. Recent studies employing methods that are well-suited to interrogating intrinsic mitochondrial function find that mitochondrial respiration and reactive oxygen species emission changes are inconsistent between aging rat muscles undergoing atrophy and appear normal in human skeletal muscle from septuagenarian physically active subjects. On the other hand, a sensitization to permeability transition seems to be a general property of atrophying muscle with aging and this effect is even seen in atrophying muscle from physically active septuagenarian subjects. In addition to this intrinsic alteration in mitochondrial function, factors extrinsic to the mitochondria may also modulate mitochondrial function in aging muscle. In particular, recent evidence implicates oxidative stress in the aging milieu as a factor that depresses respiratory function in vivo (an effect that is not present ex vivo). Furthermore, in very advanced age, not only does muscle atrophy become more severe and clinically relevant in terms of its impact, but also there is evidence that this is driven by an accumulation of severely atrophied denervated myofibers. As denervation can itself modulate mitochondrial function and recruit mitochondrial-mediated atrophy pathways, future investigations need to address the degree to which skeletal muscle mitochondrial alterations in very advanced age are a consequence of denervation, rather than a primary organelle defect, to refine our understanding of the relevance of mitochondria as a therapeutic target at this more advanced age.

KEYWORDS:

bioenergetics; mitochondria; muscle atrophy; oxidative stress; permeability transition; reactive oxygen species; sarcopenia; skeletal muscle

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