, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 95-109,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 03 Feb 2012

Evolving concepts on the age-related changes in “muscle quality”

Abstract

The deterioration of skeletal muscle with advancing age has long been anecdotally recognized and has been of scientific interest for more than 150 years. Over the past several decades, the scientific and medical communities have recognized that skeletal muscle dysfunction (e.g., muscle weakness, poor muscle coordination, etc.) is a debilitating and life-threatening condition in the elderly. For example, the age-associated loss of muscle strength is highly associated with both mortality and physical disability. It is well-accepted that voluntary muscle force production is not solely dependent upon muscle size, but rather results from a combination of neurologic and skeletal muscle factors, and that biologic properties of both of these systems are altered with aging. Accordingly, numerous scientists and clinicians have used the term “muscle quality” to describe the relationship between voluntary muscle strength and muscle size. In this review article, we discuss the age-associated changes in the neuromuscular system—starting at the level of the brain and proceeding down to the subcellular level of individual muscle fibers—that are potentially influential in the etiology of dynapenia (age-related loss of muscle strength and power).

Drs. Russ and Clark contributed equally to this article.