Researchers investigate all of the factors in muscle growth


December 12, 2014

Topic: fragility fractures

Researchers from the University of Sterling may have discovered a better way of understanding the causes behind muscle growth.

Researchers from the University of Sterling may have discovered a better way of understanding the causes behind muscle growth. The study authors created a qualitative method that determines which signals are causing muscles to grow after exercise. The findings were published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

The researchers are hopeful that their findings will be used in two populations that experience the most muscle changes: seniors and athletes.

An aging issue
As people age, they have a tendency to lose muscle mass and bone density. This atrophy process does not benefit seniors, causing them to be at a higher risk of falls and trips. Approximately half of women over the age of 65 who sustain hip fracture completely lose their mobility, the researchers noted. Weak muscles may also prevent elderly people from completing daily tasks, such as riding a bike safely or walking across the street in a timely manner.

The National Institutes of Health noted that as people age, their bones and muscles become weaker because of mineral loss. Women over the age of 65 who have experienced menopause especially face these issues, developing brittle bones and a greater risk for fragility fractures. That means that a minor bump into an object or even a sneeze can cause a fracture. 

Lead study author Lee Hamilton, M.D., noted that there is very little information on muscle growth and depletion and what might cause it, even with their research.

"We know a lot about some of the pieces of the puzzle, but we do not yet have the whole jigsaw picture," Hamilton said in a statement. "What's more, our ability to measure the responses of the bits we do know about has been reliant on subjective measures. Our research is intended to develop a cost effective way to accurately measure the activity of these key components of muscle growth."

Hamilton went on to explain that the body contains millions of proteins, which have different functions. The researchers chose to zone in on the protein called p70S6K1, which has been correlated to controlling muscle growth.

The study authors had the participants, who all played in team sports, perform several leg presses and leg extensions after eating about 20 grams of egg protein, which is credited in muscle development. The researchers took muscle biopsies at three different stages, examining the muscle once before exercise and twice after exercise.

A noticeable change
The results showed that a combination of exercise and the egg protein caused the protein examined to double in activity rate. These findings are crucial to understanding muscle growth and realizing how nutrition and other factors may impact muscle development.

The researchers noted that they are far from done. They hope to examine the impact of factors such as age, disease and minimal activity on muscle growth to potentially determine how the protein would react to medication.

The study authors concluded that their work is pioneering sports medicine, using innovative and cutting-edge molecular and metabolic techniques to determine what factors may influence muscle growth as well as muscle atrophy. They hope that with more research, they will be able to aid athletes and seniors who deal with muscle loss.


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