Apples Help Keep Muscles Strong, Mouse Study
THURSDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- A natural compound found in
apples may help prevent muscle wasting that can result from aging
and illness, according to the results of a study in mice.
The benefit appears to come from a compound in apple skin called
ursolic acid, according to Dr. Christopher Adams, of the University
of Iowa in Iowa City, and colleagues.
Adams and colleagues first identified 63 genes that change in
response to fasting in both people and mice, and another 29 that
change their expression in the muscles of both people who are
fasting and those with spinal cord injuries. They then looked at
1,300 small molecules and zeroed in on ursolic acid as a compound
that might counteract muscle atrophy.
In the next phase, the researchers found that ursolic acid could
protect against muscle wasting in mice that were deprived of food.
They also found that adding ursolic acid to the food of normal mice
for a number of weeks prompted muscle growth.
In addition, mice that received ursolic acid became leaner and
had lower blood levels of glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides,
the investigators found.
The health benefits noted in the mice were due to enhanced
insulin signaling in muscle and to corrections in gene signatures
associated with muscle atrophy, the researchers explained.
"Ursolic acid is an interesting natural compound," Adams said in a journal news release. "It's part of a normal diet as a component of apple peels. They always say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away....People who eat junk food don't get this."
It is not clear whether the findings in mice will be confirmed
in human trials, however, and whether the amount of ursolic acid
consumed as part of a normal diet would protect against the ravages
of muscle wasting.
The findings, published in the June issue of the journal
Cell Metabolism, might lead to the development of new drugs if confirmed in humans, the study authors suggested.
"Muscle wasting is a frequent companion of illness and aging," Adams said. "It prolongs hospitalization, delays recovery and in some cases prevents people from going back home. It isn't well understood and there is no medicine for it."
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