Sarcopenia, a disease defined by age-related muscle loss and function, impacts each and every one of us as we age. Medical research over the past 40 years has identified dozens of factors that contribute to Sarcopenia, including, hormonal changes, deficiencies in nutrition, denervation, changes in physical activity and diseases. Developing effective therapeutic treatments for Sarcopenia is dependent on identifying the mechanisms by which these factors affect muscle loss and understanding the interrelationship of these mechanisms. I conducted my research by compiling and analyzing several previous studies on many different mechanisms that contribute to Sarcopenia. Of these mechanisms, I determined the most significant mechanisms and mapped them out on a visual presentation. In addition to the contributing factors listed above, I found that dysregulated cell signaling, mitochondrial abnormalities, impaired autophagy/protein regulation, altered nitric oxide production, and systemic inflammation all contribute to Sarcopenia. Their impact on skeletal muscle is manifested by reduced satellite function, reduced regenerative capacity, loss of muscle mass, accumulation of damaged products, and fibrosis. My research clearly demonstrated that there was not a one-to-one correlation between factors and specific pathological characteristics of Sarcopenia. Instead, factors funneled into a discrete number of cellular processes, including cell proliferation, protein synthesis, and autophagy and apoptosis. Based on my findings, the overall cause of Sarcopenia appears to be a loss of balance between these pathways. The results of my thesis indicate that Sarcopenia is a multifactorial disorder, and therefore, effective therapy should consist of those that prevent necrosis associated with autophagy and apoptosis.
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