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MU research shows other pain reliever health assets

Sep. 23, 2009 @ 10:25 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Marshall University professors and researchers have found through recent studies that the safe use of the common pain reliever acetaminophen may help prevent age-related muscle loss.

The researchers' data indicates that aging skeletal muscles experience a decrease in the proper functioning of the enzyme and that acetaminophen intervention in aged animals could be used to restore protein kinase B (Akt) activity to a level comparable to that seen in young animals. Akt is an enzyme known to play an important role in regulation of cellular survival, proliferation and metabolism.

"Using a model that closely mimics many of the age-associated physiological changes observed in humans, we were able to demonstrate that chronic acetaminophen treatment in a recommended dosage is not only safe but might be beneficial for the treatment of the muscle dysfunction many people experience as they get older," said Dr. Eric Blough, an associate professor in the university's Department of Biological Sciences.

The lab's work, which was published in the July 29 issue of the international research journal "PLoS One," is the first study to show that acetaminophen ingestion -- at least in animals -- can be safely used for the treatment of age-related muscle loss. This finding could have far-reaching implications, given the fact that people age 65 and older make up the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.

Additional research in their laboratory, which was published in the March issue of the journal "Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews," demonstrates the medication also may be useful in diminishing the severity of high blood sugar connected to aging.

Blough said scientists in his lab will now turn their attention to examining other physiological systems, such as the heart and blood vessels, to see if acetaminophen therapy might have similar benefits for people with cardiovascular disease.

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