Sarcopenia - Molecular mechanisms and open questions

Ageing Res Rev. 2021 Jan;65:101200. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2020.101200. Epub 2020 Oct 29.


Sarcopenia represents a muscle-wasting syndrome characterized by progressive and generalized degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass, quality, and strength occurring during normal aging. Sarcopenia patients are mainly suffering from the loss in muscle strength and are faced with mobility disorders reducing their quality of life and are, therefore, at higher risk for morbidity (falls, bone fracture, metabolic diseases) and mortality. Several molecular mechanisms have been described as causes for sarcopenia that refer to very different levels of muscle physiology. These mechanisms cover e. g. function of hormones (e. g. IGF-1 and Insulin), muscle fiber composition and neuromuscular drive, myo-satellite cell potential to differentiate and proliferate, inflammatory pathways as well as intracellular mechanisms in the processes of proteostasis and mitochondrial function. In this review, we describe sarcopenia as a muscle-wasting syndrome distinct from other atrophic diseases and summarize the current view on molecular causes of sarcopenia development as well as open questions provoking further research efforts for establishing efficient lifestyle and therapeutic interventions.

Keywords: Autophagy; Mitochondria, Muscle fibre composition; Molecular pathways; Proteasome; Proteostasis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscular Atrophy / pathology
  • Quality of Life
  • Sarcopenia* / pathology