Muscle loss in old age linked to fewer nerve signals

Muscle loss in old age linked to fewer nerve signals

Muscle loss in old age linked to fewer nerve signals

Researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Waterloo, Ontario, and the University of Manchester tested 168 men, and found that the nerves controlling their legs dropped by around 30% by the time the participants reached the age of 50, the BBC reports.

A study has found why there is a natural loss of muscle in people's legs as they age - it has to do with a loss of nerves.

Surprisingly, in healthy people, muscles have a protection and these surviving nerves can give out new muscles to release waste muscles and destroy the further course of action of wasted muscles.

As people grow older, their leg muscles become progressively smaller and weaker, leading to frailty and disability. It happens to everyone eventually, but there has been no sufficient explanation as to why.

Jamie McPhee, from Manchester Metropolitan University, said that young adults generally have 60-70,000 nerves from the lumbar spine, controlling leg movements.

But his research showed this changed significantly in old age.

"There was a dramatic loss of nerves controlling the muscles - a 30-60% loss - which means they waste away", he said. All the muscles should receive a proper signal from the nervous system that tells our body parts to perform certain actions and movements.

Researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University and The University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and University of Waterloo in Canada used MRI to gain a detailed look at the muscle tissue.

They looked at muscle tissue in detail using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and they recorded the electrical activity passing through the muscle to estimate the numbers and the size of surviving nerves.

At the top, it seems that healthy muscles are able to protect themselves by sending new nerve branches to save the muscles in decline, stopping them from being lost.

Although it is not known why connections between muscles and nerves break down with age, finding out more about muscle loss could help scientists find ways of reversing the condition in the future.

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