The adipokine leptin increases skeletal muscle mass and significantly alters skeletal muscle miRNA expression profile in aged mice

Mark W Hamrick, Samuel Herberg, Phonepasong Arounleut, Hong Zhi He, A Luke Shiver, Rui Qun Qi, Li Zhou, Carlos M Isales, Qing Sheng Mi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Age-associated loss of muscle mass, or sarcopenia, contributes directly to frailty and an increased risk of falls and fractures among the elderly. Aged mice and elderly adults both show decreased muscle mass as well as relatively low levels of the fat-derived hormone leptin. Here we demonstrate that loss of muscle mass and myofiber size with aging in mice is associated with significant changes in the expression of specific miRNAs. Aging altered the expression of 57 miRNAs in mouse skeletal muscle, and many of these miRNAs are now reported to be associated specifically with age-related muscle atrophy. These include miR-221, previously identified in studies of myogenesis and muscle development as playing a role in the proliferation and terminal differentiation of myogenic precursors. We also treated aged mice with recombinant leptin, to determine whether leptin therapy could improve muscle mass and alter the miRNA expression profile of aging skeletal muscle. Leptin treatment significantly increased hindlimb muscle mass and extensor digitorum longus fiber size in aged mice. Furthermore, the expression of 37 miRNAs was altered in muscles of leptin-treated mice. In particular, leptin treatment increased the expression of miR-31 and miR-223, miRNAs known to be elevated during muscle regeneration and repair. These findings suggest that aging in skeletal muscle is associated with marked changes in the expression of specific miRNAs, and that nutrient-related hormones such as leptin may be able to reverse muscle atrophy and alter the expression of atrophy-related miRNAs in aging skeletal muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-383
Number of pages5
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Aging
  • MiR-221
  • MiR-223
  • MiR-31
  • MicroRNAs
  • Sarcopenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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