Skeletal Muscle Lipid Content and Oxidative Activity in Relation to Muscle Fiber Type in Aging and Metabolic Syndrome

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One of the most noticeable effects of aging is the reduction in skeletal muscle mass and strength (sarcopenia). The metabolic syndrome (MS) is also prevalent in old subjects, but its relevance to skeletal muscle characteristics has poorly been investigated. Immunohistochemical studies were performed with muscle biopsies from young (22 years) and old (73 years) men with and without MS to reveal age-dependent and MS-associated modifications of fiber-type characteristics. Atrophy of type II fibers and altered fiber shape characterized muscle aging in lean healthy men. In contrast, increased cross-sectional area of the most abundant type I and type IIA fibers, and reduced cytochrome c oxidase content in all fiber types, characterized MS. Aging and particularly MS were associated with accumulation of intramyocellular lipid droplets. Although lipids mostly accumulated in type I fibers, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization–mass spectrometry imaging of intramyocellular lipids did not distinguish fiber types, but clearly separated young, old, and MS subjects. In conclusion, our study suggests that MS in the elderly persons is associated with alterations in skeletal muscle at a fiber-type specific level. Overall, these fiber type-specific modifications may be important both for the age-related loss of muscle mass and strength and for the increased prevalence of MS in elderly subjects.

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