How nutrition and exercise maintain the human musculoskeletal mass

Henning Wackerhage, M J Rennie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)


In this article we review some of our recent work concerning the effects of nutrition and exercise on protein synthesis and signal transduction in human musculoskeletal tissues. A great deal of new information is being generated by the application of recently refined techniques for measuring protein turnover. The field remains one that is largely descriptive but increasingly we are beginning to discern mechanisms underlying lean tissue maintenance, growth and wasting especially as multidisciplinary tools are applied to its study. Several types of exercise and nutrition are potent stimuli for protein synthesis in skeletal muscle. By contrast, collagen in the extracellular matrix in muscle and tendon appears to be mechanically but not nutritionally sensitive. The rates of collagen turnover in a variety of tissues are sufficiently high to account for a sizeable proportion of whole body protein turnover. One of the most recent surprises is the high turnover rate of human bone collagen and its anabolic response to feeding. As our understanding of the normal physiology of these processes advances, we become better able to construct testable hypotheses concerning the effects of ageing and disease on the musculoskeletal mass. Current evidence suggests that one of the major problems with loss of muscle during ageing is an inability of the tissue to respond adequately to increased availability of nutrients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-458
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006


  • bone
  • collagen
  • protein synthesis
  • sarcopenia
  • signal transduction
  • skeletal muscle
  • muscle protein-synthesis
  • human skeletal-muscle
  • lean body-mass
  • resistance exercise
  • amino acids
  • growth hormone
  • myostatin gene
  • messenger-RNA
  • collagen synthesis
  • elderly humans


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