Electrical stimulation (ES) counteracts muscle decline in seniors

Helmut Kern, Laura Barberi, Stefan Löfler, Simona Sbardella, Samantha Burggraf, Hannah Fruhmann, Ugo Carraro, Simone Mosole, Nejc Sarabon, Michael Vogelauer, Winfried Mayer, Matthias Krenn, Jan Cvecka, Vanina Romanello, Laura Pietrangelo, Feliciano Protasi, Marco Sandri, Sandra Zampieri, Antonio Musaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The loss in muscle mass coupled with a decrease in specific force and shift in fiber composition arehallmarks of aging. Training and regular exercise attenuate the signs of sarcopenia. However,pathologic conditions limit the ability to perform physical exercise.We addressed whether electrical stimulation (ES) is an alternative intervention to improve musclerecovery and defined the molecular mechanism associated with improvement in muscle structure andfunction.We analyzed, at functional, structural, and molecular level, the effects of ES training on healthyseniors with normal life style, without routine sport activity.ES was able to improve muscle torque and functional performances of seniors and increased the sizeof fast muscle fibers. At molecular level, ES induced up-regulation of IGF-1 and modulation ofMuRF1, a muscle-specific atrophy-related gene. ES also induced up-regulation of relevant markersof differentiating satellite cells and of extracellular matrix remodeling, which might guarantee shapeand mechanical forces of trained skeletal muscle as well as maintenance of satellite cell function,reducing fibrosis.Our data provide evidence that ES is a safe method to counteract muscle decline associated withaging.

Original languageEnglish
Article number189
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Issue numberJUL
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Aging
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Igf-1
  • Microrna
  • Murf1
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Muscle performance
  • Satellite cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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