Progressive age-related changes in skeletal muscle mass and composition, underpin decreases in muscle function, which can inturn lead to impaired mobility and quality of life in older adults. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression in skeletal muscle and are associated with aging. Accumulating evidence suggests that miRNAs play an important role in the age-related changes in skeletal muscle mass, composition and function.
At the cellular level, miRNAs have been demonstrated to regulate muscle cell proliferation and differentiation. Furthermore, miRNAs are involved in the transitioning of muscle stem cells from a quiescent, to either an activated or senescence state. Evidence from animal and human studies has shown miRNAs are modulated in muscle atrophy and hypertrophy. In addition, miRNAs have been implicated in changes in muscle fiber composition, fat infiltration and insulin resistance.
Both exercise and dietary interventions can combat age-related changes in muscle mass, composition and function, which may be mediated by miRNA modulation in skeletal muscle. Circulating miRNA species derived from myogenic cell populations represent potential biomarkers of aging muscle and the molecular responses to exercise or diet interventions, but larger validation studies are required. In future therapeutic approaches targeting miRNAs, either through exercise, diet or drugs may be able to slow down or prevent the age-related changes in skeletal muscle mass, composition, function, hence help maintain mobility and quality of life in old age.
Source: Ageing Res Rev. 2014 Sep;17C:25-33. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2014.05.001. Epub 2014 May 14.