BRIC-inStem study revealed exposure to cold enhances muscles’ regeneration capacity

The health of our muscles is determined by muscle mass and strength which tend to decline with age and in disorders such as Duchene Muscle Dystrophy. This leads to frailty and an increased risk of falls and injuries, besides lowering the quality of life. Maintaining muscle health can help people stay active and independent as they age and improve the condition in dystrophy patients. Maintaining muscle homeostasis is a way to promote muscle mass and health. Muscle homeostasis is the balance between protein synthesis and protein degradation inside the muscle cells. An improvement in this balance needs regular exercise and a good diet. But patients of neuromuscular, metabolic and other disorders find it physically difficult to achieve these, getting into a vicious cycle leading to muscle atrophy and further decrease in strength. This situation is also true for the elderly, who already suffer from mobility constraints. Such situations call for more innovative interventions to improve muscle health that do not depend on the affected person’s strength or will power. In the lab of Dr Arvind Ramanathan, it has been found that exposure to low temperature of 32°C improves skeletal muscle metabolism and regeneration in cells isolated from both young and aged mice. This process is dependent on the cold shock protein RBM3, the overexpression of which is alone sufficient to have the same effect at normal physiological temperature (37°C). Hypothermia (lowering of body temperature by 3-5°C) is already used by doctors during heart and brain surgery to prevent damage to the organs due to surgical trauma (Therapeutic Hypothermia). So, it may well be an effective intervention for improving muscle health in general, since lower temperatures decrease demand of oxygen and nutrients by the muscles, decreasing their metabolic burden. The group continues to find mechanisms for this, which may inform therapeutics in the future. Citation to Article:Dey, P., Rajalaxmi, S., Saha, P., Thakur, P. S., Hashmi, M. A., Lal, H., … & Ramanathan, A. (2024). Cold-shock proteome of myoblasts reveals role of RBM3 in promotion of mitochondrial metabolism and myoblast differentiation. Communications Biology7(1), 515.DOI
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