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Form of natural hormone might prevent sarcopenia

Thursday September 10th 2020

A possible new treatment has been identified to restore the common age-related loss of muscle mass and strength.

Dr Emanuela Agosti of the University of Piemonte Orientale in Italy, and colleagues, investigated the hormone ghrelin, which is involved in metabolic regulation and activates the appetite.

It is also known to play an important role in muscle strength, in both its acylated and unacylated forms. The unacylated form does not increase appetite but instead acts on a cell receptor that protects against muscle wasting. Levels fall during ageing.

The team tested the effects of lack of, or overproduction of, the unacylated form in mice.

Both changes affected muscle, but the mice that overexpressed unacylated ghrelin “maintained better muscle structure, performance and metabolism, more typical of muscle in younger mice”, they reported yesterday (8 September) at the European Society of Endocrinology’s online conference.

Dr Agosti says: "Understanding the causes and effects of sarcopenia will improve our ability to prevent, detect, and hopefully manage this disease. These findings provide novel understanding and point to unacylated ghrelin, or analogues, as a possible therapeutic target for future treatment.

"Due to the worldwide increase in the elderly population, sarcopenia has an important social impact greatly affecting both aged people's quality of life and government health care costs. Therefore, therapeutic strategies aimed at preventing and/or reducing sarcopenia are of pivotal importance." she adds.

The team now hopes to identify the receptor mediating unacylated ghrelin’s biological activities. Following that, specific drug treatments may be created.

The presentation, "Both ghrelin deletion and unacylated ghrelin overexpression preserve muscles in aging mice" was presented on 8 September 2020, online during e-ECE 2020.

Tags: Alternative Therapy | Elderly Health | Europe

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