../Morning Post
Posted May 27 , 2010
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Health R&D

Muscles at core of healthy living: research forum at York U

TORONTO - Leading researchers from across southern Ontario will converge on York University on Friday to discuss the role that muscle plays in metabolism, heart health, aging and disease.

The first annual Muscle Health Awareness Day, organized by York’s Muscle Health Research Centre, will bring together the latest findings on the contribution made by heart muscle and skeletal muscle to overall health and wellbeing.

A wide range of collaborative research on muscle biology research is being done at York’s Muscle Health Research Centre, by researchers from the Faculty of Health and the Faculty of Science and Engineering; scientists are examining muscle development, disease, metabolism, blood supply, injury and regeneration, as well as adaptation of muscle to exercise. Using molecular, cellular and whole-body techniques, a major goal is to learn how Canadians can benefit from exercise through adaptations in the metabolism and structure of muscle, says Professor David Hood, director of the Muscle Health Research Centre and Canada Research Chair in Cell Physiology.

Researchers from the Centre will be joined by scientists from the University of Toronto, Sick Kids Hospital, the University of Guelph, McMaster University and Brock University, who will present their findings during four sessions. More than 50 poster presentations will also be on display at Muscle Health Awareness Day, showing the wide variety of muscle research being done by graduate students.

The four sessions during Muscle Health Awareness Day include:

* Session 1 - Metabolism - will provide a description of important protein and fat metabolism pathways in health and disease. Emphasis will be on how enzymes responsible for synthesizing new proteins in muscle cells are activated, and how fats are taken up into muscle cells and metabolized. This has important implications for muscle wasting conditions, as well as obesity.

* Session 2 - The Cardiovascular System - will examine how heart muscle adapts to stress in various ways. The session will focus on understanding how heart muscle cells respond to stressors such as exercise and heat and how novel methods can be used to identify important proteins that are found in cardiac disease conditions. It will also provide information about heart and smooth muscle signaling during hemodynamic stress, such as high blood pressure.

* Session 3 - Muscle Development and Satellite Cells - will describe some of the important molecules that regulate the process by which large, mature muscle cells develop from small precursor cells that fuse together, allowing muscle contraction and providing the energy for contraction to take place. Research will also be presented about the importance of precursor cells (called satellite cells) in adult muscle, and how they respond to exercise and aging.

* Session 4 - Exercise, Metabolism and Disease - will provide an understanding of important enzymes in the mitochondria that regulate carbohydrate and fat metabolism, and will relate mitochondrial function (the powerhouse of the cell) to states of physical activity and obesity in youth. Information will also be provided about muscle diseases that lead to exercise intolerance and muscle cramps.

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