Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, and Sarcopenia Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, 711 Washington Street, Boston, MA, 02111, USA.
There is pressing need to understand the aging process to better cope with its associated physical and societal costs. The age-related muscle wasting known as sarcopenia is a major contributor to the problems faced by the elderly. By hindering mobility and reducing strength, it greatly diminishes independence and quality of life. In studying the factors that contribute to the development of sarcopenia, the focus is shifting to the study of disordered muscle anabolism. The abnormal response of muscle to previously well-established anabolic stimuli is known as anabolic resistance, and may be a key factor in the development and progression of sarcopenia. Factors such as age, obesity, inflammation, and lipotoxicity contribute to anabolic resistance, and have been studied either directly or indirectly in cell systems and whole animals. Understanding the physiologic and mechanistic basis of anabolic resistance could be the key to formulating new and targeted interventions that would ease the burden currently borne by the world's aged population.