109 Zina Pitcher Place
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2200
Research in Dr. Brooks’ laboratory focuses on the loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength that occurs in old age. This phenomenon is known as sarcopenia. Muscle wasting during normal healthy aging has been reported in every organism examined from invertebrates to humans, but the mechanisms responsible are not well understood. Degenerative changes in the structure of neuromuscular synapses accumulate in muscles with aging, but whether these changes are causative in muscle atrophy and weakness is not known. Work in the Brooks’ lab focuses on understanding the relative importance of age-associated changes in motor nerves and muscle fibers that initiate disruption of neuromuscular junctions and muscle fiber denervation as well as the potential role of other important cell types in the maintenance of the NMJ, such as muscle stem cells, terminal Schwann cells, and inflammatory cells. The lab is also very much interested in the role of injury in age-associated muscle declines. In vivo and in vitro approaches are combined to determine the mechanisms underlying increases with aging in susceptibility to injury, decreases in muscle regenerative capacity, and alterations in the ability to induce protective adaptations.