Aging is associated with the development of insulin resistance, increased adiposity, and accumulation of ectopic lipid deposits in tissues and organs. Starting in mid-life there is a progressive decline in lean muscle mass associated with the preferential loss of glycolytic, fast-twitch myofibers. However, it is not known to what extent muscle loss and metabolic dysfunction are causally related or whether they are independent epiphenomena of the aging process. Here, we utilized a skeletal-muscle-specific, conditional transgenic mouse expressing a constitutively active form of Akt1 to examine the consequences of glycolytic, fast-twitch muscle growth in young vs. middle-aged animals fed standard low-fat chow diets. Activation of the Akt1 transgene led to selective skeletal muscle hypertrophy, reversing the loss of lean muscle mass observed upon aging. The Akt1-mediated increase in muscle mass led to reductions in fat mass and hepatic steatosis in older animals, and corrected age-associated impairments in glucose metabolism. These results indicate that the loss of lean muscle mass is a significant contributor to the development of age-related metabolic dysfunction and that interventions that preserve or restore fast/glycolytic muscle may delay the onset of metabolic disease.
Keywords: adipose tissue; diabetes; exercise; mTOR; sarcopenia; type IIb muscle.
© 2013 The Authors. Aging Cell published by the Anatomical Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.