Older adults (aged 60 years) are the fastest-growing age group in the world and are projected to represent 1 in every 4 adults by 2050. Aging is associated with a progressive loss of muscle mass and strength that manifests as reduced physical performance and endurance capacity, imposing a burden on both the individual and society.
Evidence has shown that mitochondrial dysfunction plays an important role in age-related diseases. In skeletal muscle, the decline in mitochondrial efficiency and capacity for adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production is associated with decreased performance and increased fatigue.
With aging a progressive decline in the cell’s capacity to eliminate dysfunctional mitochondria called mitophagy contributes to poor mitochondrial quality, and restoring levels of this capacity could be a way to improve mitochondrial function.
Urolithin A is a food metabolite of the gut microbiome that has been shown to stimulate mitophagy and improve muscle function in animals.
In a recently published study, researchers found that older adults who take a urolithin A supplement may have improved muscle endurance, reduced inflammation, and healthier mitochondria. The study appears in the journal JAMA Network Open.
For the study, the team included a total of 66 participants with a mean age of 72 years and randomly assigned them to take either 1,000 mg of urolithin A per day for 4 months or a placebo.
The researchers measured the maximum number of times participants could contract a particular muscle in their hand and leg before fatigue set in. The participants were also asked to walk as far as they could in 6 minutes on an indoor track.
The team found that those taking the supplement had small improvements in walking endurance, significantly better lab tests of muscle endurance, and less inflammation.
Sophia Liu, et al. Effect of Urolithin A Supplementation on Muscle Endurance and Mitochondrial Health in Older Adults A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(1):e2144279. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.44279.