The underappreciated role of muscle in health and disease

Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Sep;84(3):475-82. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/84.3.475.


Muscle plays a central role in whole-body protein metabolism by serving as the principal reservoir for amino acids to maintain protein synthesis in vital tissues and organs in the absence of amino acid absorption from the gut and by providing hepatic gluconeogenic precursors. Furthermore, altered muscle metabolism plays a key role in the genesis, and therefore the prevention, of many common pathologic conditions and chronic diseases. Nonetheless, the maintenance of adequate muscle mass, strength, and metabolic function has rarely, if ever, been targeted as a relevant endpoint of recommendations for dietary intake. It is therefore imperative that factors directly related to muscle mass, strength, and metabolic function be included in future studies designed to demonstrate optimal lifestyle behaviors throughout the life span, including physical activity and diet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Proteins / metabolism*


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Proteins