Inflammaging and Skeletal Muscle: Can Protein Intake Make a Difference?1,2

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Abstract

Inflammaging is the chronic low-grade inflammatory state present in the elderly, characterized by increased systemic concentrations of proinflammatory cytokines. It has been shown that inflammaging increases the risk of pathologic conditions and age-related diseases, and that it also has been associated with increased skeletal muscle wasting, strength loss, and functional impairments. Experimental evidence suggests that the increased concentrations of proinflammatory cytokines and primary tumor necrosis factor a observed in chronic inflammation lead to protein degradation through proteasome activation and reduced skeletal muscle protein synthesis (MPS) via protein kinase B/Akt downregulation. Dairy and soy proteins contain all the essential amino acids, demonstrate sufficient absorption kinetics, and include other bioactive peptides that may offer nutritional benefits, in addition to those of stimulating MPS. Whey protein has antioxidative effects, primarily because of its ability to enhance the availability of reduced glutathione and the activity of the endogenous antioxidative enzyme system. Soy protein and isoflavone-enriched soy protein, meanwhile, may counteract chronic inflammation through regulation of the nuclear transcription factor kB signaling pathway and cytokine production. Although evidence suggests that whey protein, soy protein, and isoflavone-enriched soy proteins may be promising nutritional interventions against the oxidative stress and chronic inflammation present in pathologic conditions and aging (inflammaging), there is a lack of information about the anabolic potential of dietary protein intake and protein supplementation in elderly people with increased systemic inflammation. The antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects, as well as the anabolic potential of protein supplementation, should be further investigated in the future with well-designed clinical trials focusing on inflammaging and its associated skeletal muscle loss. J Nutr 2016;146:1940-52.

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