12 January - 20 June 2016

An apple a day, may keep the doctor away

23 September

Age related atrophy and loss of muscle strength are well recorded, but is still relatively poorly understood. However, thanks to work carried out by the University of Iowa, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, a key protein which influences this muscle wastage has been identified. 

The protein ATF45 acts as a transcription factor, modifying gene expression in skeletal muscle, thus causing a reduction in the synthesis of muscle protein, leading to loss of muscle mass and muscle wastage. 

As part of this study the team also identified two compounds which may reduce this effect, ursolic acid, which is found in apple peel, and tomatidine, which comes from green tomatoes. Both of these small molecules were found to have a significant effect on reducing muscle weakness in laboratory trials. 

In studies in mice, it was found that significant improvements were seen in the mice which were fed with either of the two compounds, with muscle increasing by 10 %, but more significantly muscle strength showing gains of up to 30 %. With these gains the aging process on the muscles was effectively reversed bringing the mass and quality of muscle strength in the elderly mice close to that of a young adult mouse.

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