Skele­tal Mus­cle Aging

Improv­ing skele­tal mus­cle func­tion with age would have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on qual­ity of life in the elderly. Sar­cope­nia is the age-related loss of mus­cle con­trac­til­ity as well as mus­cle atro­phy. This loss of both qual­ity and quan­tity of mus­cle is an impor­tant pub­lic health con­cern due to its role in increased mor­bid­ity and nurs­ing home place­ment. Poor mus­cle func­tion is asso­ci­ated with exer­cise intol­er­ance and fatigue, which lead to poor qual­ity of life, loss of inde­pen­dence, and age-related dis­eases. This loss of inde­pen­dence is due to an inabil­ity to per­form activ­i­ties of daily liv­ing that require sus­tained mus­cle power, such as walk­ing, dress­ing, and show­er­ing as well as increased risk of falling. The result­ing increased rates of nurs­ing home place­ment and hos­pi­tal­iza­tion make the loss of skele­tal mus­cle func­tion with age a grow­ing pub­lic health cri­sis in terms of both qual­ity of life and eco­nomic costs to soci­ety. Janssen et al.esti­mated these costs at $18 bil­lion dol­lars in 2001 and pre­dicted that a 10% reduc­tion in sar­cope­nia preva­lence would lead to a sav­ings of $1.4 bil­lion in health­care costs (adjusted to 2010 dol­lars). Despite this, there are few treat­ment options to reverse mus­cle degen­er­a­tion in the elderly due in large part to the poor under­stand­ing of the mech­a­nisms that under­lie this dys­func­tion. A major inter­est in our lab is iden­ti­fy­ing new inter­ven­tions that have the poten­tial to trans­late into elderly patients to improve mus­cle func­tion and qual­ity of life.

Healthcare Costs