Sarcopenia as a Problem of Motor Unit Degeneration

Sarcopenia is the name given to the characteristic loss of muscle mass and strength with age. It is one of the better conditions to use in order to illustrate the point that the research community often approaches complex aspects of aging in the manner of the blind men and the elephant. Every group is specialized, and focused on one specific aspect of the overall situation. So one can look at a recent paper on stem cell decline as the dominant cause of sarcopenia and come away quite convinced, and then read the paper I’ll point out today, that paints issues with the interface between nerves and muscles – the motor unit – as an important cause of sarcopenia, and start to think that perhaps it isn’t all stem cells.

Sarcopeniablind men and the elephantstem cell decline as the dominant cause of sarcopeniamotor unitstem cells

The same is true of many other possible causes of sarcopenia. Some researchers have run studies of strength training and suggest that substantial fractions of the loss of muscle with age are due to lack of exercise. Others have investigated age-related defects in the processing of amino acids such as leucine necessary for the construction of proteins in


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