Milk fat globule membrane supplementation with voluntary running exercise attenuates age-related motor dysfunction by suppressing neuromuscular junction abnormalities in mice

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Abstract

Age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and function attenuates physical performance, and maintaining fine muscle innervation is known to play an important role in its prevention. We had previously shown that consumption of milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) with habitual exercise improves the muscle mass and motor function in humans and mice. Improvement of neuromuscular junction (NMJ) was suggested as one of the mechanisms underlying these effects. In this study, we evaluated the effect of MFGM intake combined with voluntary running (MFGM-VR) on morphological changes of NMJ and motor function in aging mice. Seven months following the intervention, the MFGM-VR group showed a significantly improved motor coordination in the rotarod test and muscle force in the grip strength test compared with the control group at 13 and 14 months of age, respectively. In 14-month old control mice, the extensor digitorum longus muscle showed increased abnormal NMJs, such as fragmentation and denervation, compared with 6-month old young mice. However, such age-related deteriorations of NMJs were significantly suppressed in the MFGM-VR group. Increase in the expression of NMJ formation-related genes, such as agrin and LDL Receptor Related Protein 4 (LRP4), might contribute to this beneficial effect. Rotarod performance and grip strength showed significant negative correlation with the status of denervation and fragmentation of NMJs. These results suggest that MFGM intake with voluntary running exercise effectively suppresses age-related morphological deterioration of NMJ, thus contributing to improvement of motor function.

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