AsianScientist (Jan. 23, 2018) – Scientists at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) in Japan have discovered that a soy-derived supplement reduces muscle loss in mice. They published their findings in the European Journal of Nutrition.
Healthy muscles are integral to overall good health, as muscle mass is important for appropriate metabolism and mobility. Unfortunately, as the population of ageing individuals increases worldwide, and people adopt a more sedentary lifestyle, healthy muscles can be deprived of activity and gradually waste away. Such a process can also occur in individuals with long term injuries.
This condition, called atrophy, can result in a myriad of constraints in an individual’s life. Although adequate exercise and nutrition normally help maintain healthy muscle mass, hormone therapy and dietary supplements have also been shown to be effective. In particular, isoflavones found in soy products are known to possess marked anti-oxidant potential. Studies have also shown the beneficial effects of isoflavones on muscle mass in mice and other rodents.
In this study, a research group led by Dr. Kunihiro Sakuma of Tokyo Tech investigated whether a dietary isoflavone aglycone (AglyMax) could inhibit muscle atrophy in mice. They first induced muscle atrophy in mice by removing the sciatic nerves within the calf muscles of mice. The procedure deprived the muscles of nerve stimulation, leading to gradual atrophy and catastrophic loss of muscle mass.
Two groups of mice with severed sciatic nerves of the left leg were fed either a normal diet or a diet supplemented with 0.6 percent AglyMax. After two weeks, the muscles from these mice were compared. The mice on the AglyMax diet were found to have substantially thicker muscle fibers in the affected muscle, compared to those on a normal diet.
The scientists also sought to determine the way in which isoflavones reduced muscle atrophy. They found that the isoflavone-based diet prevented muscle atrophy by inhibiting muscle cell death.
Despite these insights, the scientists noted that their work only demonstrates the effect of the soy supplementation in denervated muscles, and it remains to be seen whether soy supplementation plays a similar therapeutic role for other conditions, like aging related atrophy.
There is hope that future studies will clarify both the role that isoflavones play in modulating muscle atrophy, as well as the possible therapeutic application of isoflavones in individuals with muscle atrophy due to ageing or illness.
The article can be found at: Tabata et al. (2017) The Influence of Isoflavone for Denervation-induced Muscle Atrophy.
Source: Tokyo Institute of Technology; Photo: Shutterstock.
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