Effects of clenbuterol on skeletal muscle mass, body composition, and recovery from surgical stress in senescent rats

Metabolism. 1991 Aug;40(8):855-60. doi: 10.1016/0026-0495(91)90015-o.


Aging decreases skeletal muscle mass and strength, which may be exacerbated by age-related diseases. There is a need for therapeutic agents to prevent or restore loss of skeletal muscle in elderly subjects with muscle wasting disorders. Clenbuterol, a beta 2-adrenergic agonist, dramatically increases skeletal muscle mass in young animals and partially prevents or restores muscle loss in experimental models of muscle wasting. However, the protein anabolic and fat catabolic effects of clenbuterol have not been studied in senescent animals. To determine whether this drug has potential for preventing or repairing muscle loss in elderly subjects, we have examined its effects in young and old rats. Clenbuterol was administered by implanted osmotic minipumps to Fischer-344 rats ages 3, 12, and 23 months, at a dose of 1.5 mg/kg/24 h for 3 weeks. The weights of five hindlimb muscles and carcass protein and fat content were determined. Clenbuterol treatment increased the weight of skeletal muscles 22% to 39% in 3-month-old rats, 19% to 35% in 12-month-old rats, and 22% to 25% in 23-month-old animals. Likewise, clenbuterol increased carcass protein content 19% in 3-month-old rats, 16% in 12-month-old rats, and 24% in 23-month-old animals. Conversely, the drug reduced carcass fat content 36% in 3-month-old rats, 32% in 12-month-old rats, and 38% in 23-month-old rats. Therefore, clenbuterol had similar anabolic and catabolic effects in all age groups. In addition, clenbuterol stimulated recovery of skeletal muscle protein lost following pump implantation in senescent rats.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Body Composition / drug effects*
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Clenbuterol / administration & dosage
  • Clenbuterol / pharmacology*
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Heart / anatomy & histology
  • Heart Ventricles
  • Infusion Pumps
  • Kidney / anatomy & histology
  • Male
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscles / physiopathology
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Postoperative Period
  • Prostheses and Implants
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Stress, Physiological / etiology
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology*


  • Muscle Proteins
  • Clenbuterol