One of our research goals is to answer questions such as, “How does aging affect metabolism of older adults?” and “What is the mechanism behind those age-related changes in metabolism?”. By addressing these questions, we are trying to help develop prospective intervention to prevent frailty and sarcopenia, both of which we commonly experience as we age.
In recent years, doctors and scientists have tried to prevent and cure frailty and muscle loss through lifestyle modifications, such as exercising and eating a high-protein diet. However, we need to understand the physiological mechanisms behind these.
Many studies have suggested that there’s an association between disrupted amino acid metabolism, frailty, and poor daily functioning. For example, older adults with low muscle mass and frailty have higher levels of citrulline, taurine, and asparagine, which indicates that those who are frail have problems with synthesizing proteins and removing toxic ammonia from the body. Moreover, older adults have shown increased glutamine production and myofibrillar protein breakdown, as well as decreased arginine synthesis when compared to younger adults.