The extracellular matrix (ECM) of skeletal muscle is critical for force transmission and for the passive elastic response of skeletal muscle. Structural, biochemical, cellular, and functional changes in skeletal muscle ECM contribute to the deterioration in muscle mechanical properties with aging. Structural changes include an increase in the collagen concentration, a change in the elastic fiber system, and an increase in fat infiltration of skeletal muscle. Biochemical changes include a decreased turnover of collagen with potential accumulation of enzymatically mediated collagen cross-links and a buildup of advanced glycation end-product cross-links. Altered mechanotransduction, poorer activation of satellite cells, poorer chemotactic and delayed inflammatory responses, and a change in modulators of the ECM are important cellular changes. It is possible that the structural and biochemical changes in skeletal muscle ECM contribute to the increased stiffness and impairment in force generated by the contracting muscle fibers seen with aging. The cellular interactions provide and potentially coordinate an adaptation to mechanical loading and ensure successful regeneration after muscle injury. Some of the changes in skeletal muscle ECM with aging may be preventable with resistance or weight training, but it is clear that more human studies are needed on the topic.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.