The NLRP3 inflammasome contributes to sarcopenia and lower muscle glycolytic potential in old mice
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The mechanisms underpinning decreased skeletal muscle strength and slowing of movement during aging are ill-defined. "Inflammaging," increased inflammation with advancing age, may contribute to aspects of sarcopenia, but little is known about the participatory immune components. We discovered that aging was associated with increased caspase-1 activity in mouse skeletal muscle. We hypothesized that the caspase-1-containing NLRP3 inflammasome contributes to sarcopenia in mice. Male C57BL/6J wild-type (WT) and NLRP3-/- mice were aged to 10 (adult) and 24 mo (old). NLRP3-/- mice were protected from decreased muscle mass (relative to body mass) and decreased size of type IIB and IIA myofibers, which occurred between 10 and 24 mo of age in WT mice. Old NLRP3-/- mice also had increased relative muscle strength and endurance and were protected from age-related increases in the number of myopathic fibers. We found no evidence of age-related or NLRP3-dependent changes in markers of systemic inflammation. Increased caspase-1 activity was associated with GAPDH proteolysis and reduced GAPDH enzymatic activity in skeletal muscles from old WT mice. Aging did not alter caspase-1 activity, GAPDH proteolysis, or GAPDH activity in skeletal muscles of NLRP3-/- mice. Our results show that the NLRP3 inflammasome participates in age-related loss of muscle glycolytic potential. Deletion of NLRP3 mitigates both the decline in glycolytic myofiber size and the reduced activity of glycolytic enzymes in muscle during aging. We propose that the etiology of sarcopenia involves direct communication between immune responses and metabolic flux in skeletal muscle.
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