Study Finds Green Tea Extract and Cocoa Improve Survival and Muscle Function in Mice

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Study Finds Green Tea Extract and Cocoa Improve Survival and Muscle Function in Mice
  • Supplementing aged mice with green tea extract and cocoa significantly improved their survival rates and markers of neuromuscular function. 

  • Cocoa (but not green tea extract) also improved neuroprotective markers. 

  • Both diets preserved neuromuscular junctions — a bridge connecting the skeletal system and the nervous system — as well as delayed skeletal muscle senescence, and enhanced its regenerative capacity.

This article was posted on EurekAlert.org:

Aging-US published "Beneficial effects of dietary supplementation with green tea catechins and cocoa flavanols on aging-related regressive changes in the mouse neuromuscular system" which reported that green tea extract (GTE) and cocoa-supplemented diets significantly improved survival rate of mice. GTE increased density of VAChT and VGluT2 afferent synapses on neuromuscular junctions.

Cocoa, but not GTE, reduced aging-associated microgliosis and increased the proportion of neuroprotective microglial phenotypes.

Dr. Jordi Calderó from IRBLleida said, "Sarcopenia, the progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and function with age, is considered the main causative factor of the physical performance decline in the elderly."

Sarcopenia, the progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and function with age, is considered the main causative factor of the physical performance decline in the elderly. The compromised muscular function associated to sarcopenia has a negative impact on the life quality of older adults and increases the risk for disability, fall-associated injuries, morbidity, and mortality. The authors have recently reported a marked increase in the microglial and astroglial pro-inflammatory phenotypes (M1 and A1, respectively) in the spinal cord of aged mice. This may be due to the presence of anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective (M2 and A2) glial subpopulations. Caloric restriction, based on a diet low in calories, has been shown to attenuate aging sarcopenia in various species by acting at different levels of the skeletal muscle.

Caloric restriction has also been reported to ameliorate age-related changes in rodent NMJs and to prevent MN and motor axon degeneration found to occur with aging [11, 21] . In a similar way, some dietary supplements have been shown to counteract age related changes that contribute to neuromuscular dysfunction (reviewed by [12) Plant flavonoids have gained particular attention as dietary compounds for keeping good health and preventing a number of diseases, particularly cardiac disorders and cancer.

The Calderó Research Team concluded in their Aging-US Research Output that, green tea and cocoa flavonoids from GTE and cocoa significantly increased survival rate of aged mice. Both diets preserved NMJ innervation and maturity, delayed the senescence process of the skeletal muscle, and enhanced its regenerative capacity. Future research is needed to investigate whether higher doses of flavonoid are needed and/or longer-term interventions can help restore proper motor function.

This study was published in the journal Aging in July 2021. 

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