Prevalence and Mechanisms of Skeletal Muscle Atrophy in Metabolic Conditions

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Feb 3;24(3):2973. doi: 10.3390/ijms24032973.


Skeletal muscle atrophy is prevalent in a myriad of pathological conditions, such as diabetes, denervation, long-term immobility, malnutrition, sarcopenia, obesity, Alzheimer's disease, and cachexia. This is a critically important topic that has significance in the health of the current society, particularly older adults. The most damaging effect of muscle atrophy is the decreased quality of life from functional disability, increased risk of fractures, decreased basal metabolic rate, and reduced bone mineral density. Most skeletal muscle in humans contains slow oxidative, fast oxidative, and fast glycolytic muscle fiber types. Depending on the pathological condition, either oxidative or glycolytic muscle type may be affected to a greater extent. This review article discusses the prevalence of skeletal muscle atrophy and several mechanisms, with an emphasis on high-fat, high-sugar diet patterns, obesity, and diabetes, but including other conditions such as sarcopenia, Alzheimer's disease, cancer cachexia, and heart failure.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; diabetes; muscle atrophy; obesity; sarcopenia; skeletal muscle.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease* / metabolism
  • Cachexia / epidemiology
  • Cachexia / etiology
  • Cachexia / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscular Atrophy / metabolism
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Sarcopenia* / epidemiology
  • Sarcopenia* / etiology
  • Sarcopenia* / metabolism

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the Alabama Agricultural Experimental Station (AAES), Hatch/Multistate Funding program, and AAES Award for Interdisciplinary Research (AAES-AIR) to JRB.