The loss of muscle mass and weakness that accompanies ageing is a major contributor to physical frailty and loss of independence in older people. A failure of muscle to adapt to physiological stresses such as exercise is seen with ageing and disruption of redox regulated processes and stress responses are recognized to play important roles in theses deficits. The role of redox regulation in control of specific stress responses, including the generation of heat shock proteins (HSPs) by muscle appears to be particularly important and affected by ageing. Transgenic and knockout studies in experimental models in which redox and HSP responses were modified have demonstrated the importance of these processes in maintenance of muscle mass and function during ageing. New data also indicate the potential of these processes to interact with and influence ageing in other tissues. In particular the roles of redox signalling and HSPs in regulation of inflammatory pathways appears important in their impact on organismal ageing. This review will briefly indicate the importance of this area and demonstrate how an understanding of the manner in which redox and stress responses interact and how they may be controlled offers considerable promise as an approach to ameliorate the major functional consequences of ageing of skeletal muscle (and potentially other tissues) in man.

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