Research ArticleSarcopenia

Losartan Restores Skeletal Muscle Remodeling and Protects Against Disuse Atrophy in Sarcopenia

Science Translational Medicine  11 May 2011:
Vol. 3, Issue 82, pp. 82ra37
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3002227

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Losartan Comes of Age

The Little Old Lady from Pasadena describes a diminutive woman of advanced years who aggressively drives her Dodge around a southern California city. In popular culture, people link long life spans with being “little”; yet, shortened stature is only one physical change associated with aging. Another, less jocular, transformation is loss of muscle mass and strength—called sarcopenia—which can cause disability and predicts impending death in older adults. Burks et al. now identify losartan, an angiotensin II receptor antagonist commonly used to treat high blood pressure, as a new drug candidate for treating sarcopenia.

Although the causes of sarcopenia are poorly understood, transforming growth factor–β (TGF-β) may contribute to faulty repair in aged muscle. Burks et al. used losartan to antagonize TGF-β signaling in an aged mouse model of sarcopenia. Losartan treatment improved muscle remodeling after injury and protected sarcopenic muscle from further loss of muscle mass caused by immobilization; these effects were mediated via two signaling circuits critical for skeletal muscle homeostasis: the TGF-β and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1)/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathways. These observations suggest that treatment with losartan, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–approved drug, may benefit sarcopenia patients and allow little old ladies everywhere to continue their street racing for many years to come. Go granny go.


  • Citation: T. N. Burks, E. Andres-Mateos, R. Marx, R. Mejias, C. Van Erp, J. L. Simmers, J. D. Walston, C. W. Ward, R. D. Cohn, Losartan Restores Skeletal Muscle Remodeling and Protects Against Disuse Atrophy in Sarcopenia. Sci. Transl. Med. 3, 82ra37 (2011).