Mitochondrial decoupling makes mitochondria, the cell’s powerhouses, less efficient. As a result, the mitochondria burn more energy. Older mice receiving BAM15 lost fat, gained muscle and strength, and increased physical activity. Credit: Pennington Biomedical Research Center
A newly discovered chemical compound helped older obese mice lose fat and weight, add muscle and strength, reduce age-related inflammation and increase physical activity, a new study shows.
The study, published in the Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle, provides the first evidence that BAM15, a mitochondrial decoupling, prevents sarcopenic obesity or age-related muscle loss accompanied by an increase in adipose tissue.
“Loss of muscle mass is typically not a problem in younger adults with obesity. But as people get older, it changes. Older adults with sarcopenic obesity suffer accelerated muscle loss. They become less active. As a result, they are at high risk of falls, strokes, heart disease, poorer quality of life and premature death, “said Christopher Axelrod, MS, director of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center’s Integrated Physiology and Molecular Medicine Laboratory.
The weakness and fragility common to sarcopenic obesity are offset in older mice – corresponding to the age of 60-65 in human years – given BAM15. The mice, all of which were obese, were fed a high-fat diet. Despite this, the mice given BAM15 lost weight and became stronger and more active.
“Typically, when you lose weight, you also lose muscle, and under some circumstances you can lose a lot of it,” Axelrod said. “In this study, the old mice increased their muscle mass by an average of 8 percent, their strength by 40 percent, while losing more than 20 percent of their fat.”
BAM15 works by making the mitochondria, the cell’s powerhouses, less efficient. The result is that the mitochondria burn more energy. Researchers are reluctant to describe BAM15 as a miracle cure. More research will be needed to determine its effectiveness for humans.
However, the results on BAM15 have important implications for improving the quality of life of older adults, especially for the rapidly growing number of people with obesity. Preventing, delaying or reversing the causes and consequences of sarcopenic obesity can allow people to live longer and healthier lives.
“These data highlight that mitochondrial decouplings can play an important role in improving the health span – the time a person enjoys good health – in old age,” said Pennington Biomedical Executive Director John Kirwan, Ph.D.
BAM15 improves many of the key determinants of health and aging, including:
- Removal of damaged mitochondria Make healthier mitochondria and reduce “inflammatory” or age-related inflammation associated with muscle loss
“It’s even more important to prolong health than to prolong life,” Kirwan said. “Suppose you could add 20 or 30 years to a person’s life. What would be the point if their quality of life was awful?”
Axelrod and Kirwan are the corresponding authors of the study. Wagner Dantas, Ph.D., a postdoc researcher at Kirwan’s Integrated Physiology and Molecular Medicine Laboratory, is the lead author.
This work used core facilities supported in part by the Pennington Biomedicals Center for Biomedical Research Excellence through the National Institutes of Health Awards 5P30GM118430 and 1P20GM135002 and the Nutrition Obesity Research Center through the National Institutes of Health Award P30DK072476. This research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health Award U54GM104940. The content is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
Study Detects BAM15 as a Potential Treatment for Obesity More Information: Wagner S. Dantas et al., Mitochondrial Relaxation Suppresses Sarcopenic Obesity by Improving Skeletal Muscle Mitophagy and Quality Control, Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle (2022). DOI: 10.1002 / jcsm.12982
Provided by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center
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