Investigations mostly in animal models have shown a role of sialic acid in the morphology and functionality of skeletal muscle during development and adult life. Several studies in humans have been performed regarding changes in sialic acid expression in a particular pathology, hereditary inclusion body myopathy, leading to muscular weakness and atrophy, with a similar phenomenon appearing also in sarcopeniaof aging. In this study the expression of monomeric and polymeric sialic acids was evaluated in human skeletal muscle during adult life. Surgical biopsies of the Quadriceps femoris muscle from men aged18–25 years (young group; n = 8) and men aged 72–78 (elderly group; n = 10) were collected for analysis. Expression of sialic acids was evaluated using lectin histochemistry, associated with enzymatic andchemical treatments to characterize monomeric and polymeric sialic acids. The polysialic acid expression was also evaluated by immunohistochemistry. Various types of sialic acid in the muscle tissue, in different amounts in the study groups, were detected. Monomeric sialic acids decreased in the elderly groupcompared with the young group, whereas polysialic acid increased. Sialic acid acetylation was present only in the young group. These findings demonstrated that changes in the expression of sialic acids in skeletal muscle tissue may be related to morphofunctional modifications occurring during aging.
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