Saving Old Muscle

Blood pressure drug losartan repairs injured, deteriorating muscle

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) As people get older, their muscles shrink and can easily get hurt. For these people, exercise might not be enough to keep their muscles healthy. So, it is welcome news that there may be a drug that protects muscle health.

Researchers found that a blood pressure drug called Cozaar (Losartan) can help injured muscles repair themselves. In addition, the drug may also protect muscle from wasting away because of inactivity.

"A blood pressure drug fixes injured muscles in old people."

In past studies on mice with Marfan Syndrome and muscular dystrophy, Losartan was shown to help regenerate muscles.

For this study, researchers set out to see if Losartan could do the same for muscles that were weakened by old age and lack of use.

The research team was both excited and surprised by their results, says Ronald Cohn, M.D., assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Not only did Losartan help muscles repair themselves, but the drug also prevented disuse atrophy - or the wasting away of muscle because of a lack of use.

In other words, Losartan completely prevented the loss of muscle fibers.

The Study

  • Researchers from Johns Hopkins University worked with 40 mice that were considered geriatric, or elderly, in order to see if Losartan would help muscle fibers regenerate
  • They treated half of the mice for one week with water laced with Losartan, and then injected the animals' shin muscles with a chemical toxin
  • Four days after injection, the number of regenerating muscle fibers was the same for mice treated with Losartan and those that were not treated
  • 19 days after injection, mice treated with Losartan had about 10 to 15 percent of scar tissue formation, compared to 30 to 40 percent of scar tissue formation in those that were not treated
  • The researchers conducted more experiments to see if Losartan would protect against disuse atrophy
  • They disabled the shin muscles of geriatric mice, and treated half of them with Losartan
  • While the mice not treated with Losartan lost 20 percent of of their shin muscle mass, the Losartan-treated mice lost practically no mass
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 12, 2011
Last Updated:
May 26, 2011