The Interconnection of Muscle and Systemic Aging via Myokine Signaling

2013 new Scholar Award in aging

The progressive loss of skeletal muscle function and mass (sarcopenia) is a serious feature of aging and a key component of the geriatric syndrome of frailty. Epidemiological surveys in humans indicate that muscle aging influences the progression of several age-related diseases in other tissues. However, the signaling pathways involved in this inter-tissue communication are largely unknown. Recently, skeletal muscle has been recognized as an endocrine tissue with the capacity to secrete cytokines and growth factors, known as myokines, which can act on distant tissues. We seek to understand the role of skeletal muscle and myokine signaling in the systemic regulation of aging. Specifically, we aim to investigate how muscle-specific genetic interventions can regulate lifespan, the role of myokines in mediating the crosstalk between muscle and other tissues, and the cellular and molecular responses induced in distant tissues. To address these questions we use transgenic RNAi screens in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and biochemical, molecular and cellular approaches to identify and characterize new genes and pathways involved in myokine signaling. Overall, these studies will progress our understanding on how organismal aging is an integrated process resulting from signaling events in muscle and other tissues.

Fabio Demontis Ph.D.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital