Sarcopenia is defined as the age‐related loss of skeletal muscle mass, quality, and strength. The pathophysiological mechanisms underlying sarcopenia are still not completely understood. The aim of this work was to evaluate, for the first time, the expression of NLRP3 inflammasome in bovine skeletal muscle in order to investigate the hypothesis that inflammasome activation may trigger and sustain a pro‐inflammatory environment leading to sarcopenia. Samples of skeletal muscle were collected from 60 cattle belonging to three age‐based groups. Morphologic, immunohistochemical and molecular analysis were performed to assess the presence of age‐related pathologic changes and chronic inflammation, the expression of NLRP3 inflammasome and to determine the levels of interleukin‐1β, interleukin‐18 and tumor necrosis factor alpha in muscle tissue. Our results revealed the presence of morphologic sarcopenia hallmark, chronic lymphocytic inflammation and a type II fibers‐selective NLRP3 expression associated to a significant decreased number of immunolabeled‐fibers in aged animals. Moreover, we found a statistically significant age‐related increase of pro‐inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin‐1β and interleukin‐18 suggesting the activation of NLRP3 inflammasome. Taken together, our data suggest that NLRP3 inflammasome components may be normally expressed in skeletal muscle, but its priming and activation during aging may contribute to enhance a pro‐inflammatory environment altering normal muscular anabolism and metabolism.
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