June 10, 2011
Apples Keep Muscles Strong?
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Researchers say an ingredient in apple peels -- known as ursolic acid -- may help prevent muscle wasting.
"Muscle wasting is a frequent companion of illness and aging," Christopher Adams, from the University of Iowa, was quoted as saying.
"It prolongs hospitalization, delays recoveries, and in some cases, prevents people from going back home. It isn't well understood, and there is no medicine for it."
A team of researchers looked at what happens to gene activity in muscles under conditions that promote weakening. They found 63 genes that change in response to fasting in both people and mice and another 29 genes that shift their expression in the muscles of people who are fasting and those with spinal cord injuries. After comparing those gene expression signatures to the signatures of cells treated with more than 1,300 bioactive small molecules, the researchers discovered that ursolic acid might counteract atrophy.
The investigators gave ursolic acid to fasted mice. They found ursolic acid could protect against muscle weakening. When ursolic acid was added to the food of normal mice for a period of weeks, their muscles grew. Animals that were given ursolic acid also became leaner and had lower levels of glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides in their blood.
"Ursolic acid is an interesting natural compound," Adams said. "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."
The scientists say more research is needed to determine if their findings in mice will translate to humans.
SOURCE: Cell Metabolism, June 7, 2011