Skeletal muscle weakness occurs with aging and in females this is compounded by the loss of estrogen with ovarian failure. Estrogen deficiency mediates decrements in muscle strength from both inadequate preservation of skeletal muscle mass and decrements in the quality of the remaining skeletal muscle. Processes and components of skeletal muscle that are affected by estrogens are beginning to be identified. This review focuses on mechanisms that contribute to the loss of muscle force generation when estrogen is low in females, and conversely the maintenance of strength by estrogen. Evidence is accumulating that estrogen deficiency induces apoptosis in skeletal muscle contributing to loss of mass and thus strength. Estrogen sensitive processes that affect quality, i.e., force generating capacity of muscle, include myosin phosphorylation and satellite cell function. Further detailing these mechanisms and identifying additional mechanisms that underlie estrogenic effects on skeletal muscle is important foundation for the design of therapeutic strategies to minimize skeletal muscle pathologies, such as sarcopenia and dynapenia.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grants R01-AG031743 (DAL) and T32-DK091317 (BCC), and the Academy of Finland ( 309504 ; EKL). We thank Georgios Kararigas for critical reading of the manuscript.
- Skeletal muscle