There are several causes for muscle atrophy most of which are related to poor lifestyles. However, of its many causes, disuse of muscles is the main cause. By living a lazy lifestyle whereby one does not use their muscles on a regular basis, the muscle mass tends to reduce gradually. As a matter of fact, most of the people suffering from atrophy have been found to live a dormant life. Astronauts are also known to be highly prone to muscle loss due to the lack of gravity in space which means their muscles are more of inactive. Zero gravity means the body does not strain at all hence laxity of the muscles.
The body wasting syndrome, commonly referred to as cachexia, is another popular cause of muscle atrophy. It is quite common among people suffering from conditions such as cancer, AIDS or any other sort of chronic disease. In such cases, the medications given for the diseases tend to weaken the body leading to muscle loss. The condition in itself is another agent of atrophy considering its several negative effects on the patient’s body.
Muscle atrophy can be defined as the deterioration or loss of muscle tissue. It is a common human condition yet little is known about the causes. In order to understand the causes of muscle atrophy, it is important to first understand the physiology of the loss of muscle. Recently researchers from the University of Iowa determined that a single protein called GAdd45a is responsible for about 40% of genetic activity that causes skeletal muscle atrophy by reprogramming genetic content of the muscle cells leading to change in the shape of the nucleus.
Muscle Atrophic changes have recently been differentiated into three categories: Muscle wasting, cachexia and sarcopenia. Muscle Wasting is the unintentional weight loss, including fat and fat-free components. Wasting occurs mostly due to inadequacies in ones diet. Cachexia refers to loss of the fat-free mass especially the body cell mass. This occurs with little or no weight loss and is commonly associated with hyper metabolism. Sarcopenia on the other hand refers to loss of muscle mass specifically, and seems to be an intrinsic, age related condition. It may occur due to gradual failure of cells that aid regeneration of muscle fibers.