Is muscle growth possible in old age?

Published: 19th October 2009
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Normally, the answer to this question would be negative. Who would want to believe that muscle growth can happen during old age. In fact, it is scientifically tested that even the strongest muscle builders shrink their muscles when they turn old. However, a recent study by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researchers proves that muscle growth is possible in people having old age.
The study is based on the grounds that with old age people tend to lose responsiveness to insulin which declines the physical strength. When we consume food, insulin level in the blood goes up and reaches the muscle tissues. The insulin hormone facililitates the process of protein synthesis and hence contributes towards muscle growth. In older people, because of endothelial dysfunction, the effect of insulin released in blood nullifies. The endothelium is a layer of cells present in the inner lining of blood vessels which controls the flow of nutrients from blood vessels to muscle layers. Because of inhibited supply of insulin, the endothelium dysfunnctions or stops working, which hampers muscle growth.
To test this effect on older people, researchers injected double the amount of insulin in 14 elderly people who had no trouble with glucose. They found that muscle protein synthesis was higher in case of elderly people when double the amount of insulin was injected. Therefore, the scientists concluded that the increase in the level of insulin in blood vessels stimulates muscle growth.
Even when the elderly people had enough food like young people, the endothelial dysfunction slowed down muscle growth. Scientists are still to confirm whether preparing drugs for better usage of insulin to stimulate protein synthesis is possible or no. The studies have not been published yet so whether this fact can have practical implications is yet to be confirmed.
Hopefully, in the future when the results are materialized, it will be possible for even aged people to have muscle growth.


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