Aging, exercise, and muscle protein metabolism

R. Koopman, L.J.C. van Loon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Koopman R, van Loon LJ. Aging, exercise, and muscle protein metabolism. J Appl Physiol 106: 2040-2048, 2009. First published January 8, 2009; doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.91551.2008.-Aging is accompanied by a progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength, leading to the loss of functional capacity and an increased risk of developing chronic metabolic disease. The age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass is attributed to a disruption in the regulation of skeletal muscle protein turnover, resulting in an imbalance between muscle protein synthesis and degradation. As basal (fasting) muscle protein synthesis rates do not seem to differ substantially between the young and elderly, many research groups have started to focus on the muscle protein synthetic response to the main anabolic stimuli, i.e., food intake and physical activity. Recent studies suggest that the muscle protein synthetic response to food intake is blunted in the elderly. The latter is now believed to represent a key factor responsible for the age-related decline in skeletal muscle mass. Physical activity and/or exercise stimulate postexercise muscle protein accretion in both the young and elderly. However, the latter largely depends on the timed administration of amino acids and/or protein before, during, and/or after exercise. Prolonged resistance type exercise training represents an effective therapeutic strategy to augment skeletal muscle mass and improve functional performance in the elderly. The latter shows that the ability of the muscle protein synthetic machinery to respond to anabolic stimuli is preserved up to very old age. Research is warranted to elucidate the interaction between nutrition, exercise, and the skeletal muscle adaptive response. The latter is needed to define more effective strategies that will maximize the therapeutic benefits of lifestyle intervention in the elderly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2040-2048
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


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