Due to the fundamental dependence of mammalian life on adequate mitochondrial function, the question of how and why mitochondria change in old age is the target of intense study. Given the importance of skeletal muscle for the support of mobility and health, this question extends to the need to understand mitochondrial changes in the muscle of older adults, as well. We and others have focused on clarifying the age-related changes in human skeletal muscle mitochondrial function in vivo. These changes include both the maximal capacity for oxidative production of energy (ATP), as well as the relative use of mitochondrial ATP production for powering muscular activity. It has been known for nearly 50 years that muscle mitochondrial content is highly plastic; exercise training can induce an approximately 2-fold increase in mitochondrial content, while disuse has the opposite effect. Here, we suggest that a portion of the age-related changes in mitochondrial function that have been reported are likely the result of behavioral effects, as physical activity influences have not always been accounted for. Further, there is emerging evidence that various muscles may be affected differently by age-related changes in physical activity and movement patterns. In this review, we will focus on age-related changes in oxidative capacity and flux measured in vivo in human skeletal muscle.
- physical activity
- Copyright © 2016, Journal of Applied Physiology