Between the ages of 50 and 80 in humans, muscle mass is reduced by about one-third; this is a major contributing factor to increased falls and fractures, with impaired physical function (frailty) resulting in dependency and sometimes death.
But new research from the University of Western Australia has found that a permanent disconnection between nerves and muscles may be the reason behind progressive loss of muscle mass and function in older people.
The researchers, who observed older mice aged 29 months (roughly equivalent to 80-year-old humans), found that the animals showed an alarming absence of healthy connections between nerves and muscles at the contact points for nerve stimulation on muscles.
Associate Professor Tea Shavlakadze and Professor Miranda Grounds from the School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology at The University of Western Australia. The professors leading the study said “It is not a disease but part of life”
Everyone over 60 is affected by this progressive ageing condition to some degree.
Their observations identify a new target for reducing sarcopenia and strengthen the argument for regular exercise to slow down muscle wasting.