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Lab personnel

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Research interests

Sarcopenia - age-related loss of muscle mass and strength

Sarcopenia is the widely described phenomenon of age-related loss of muscle mass and strength. The functional impairments that arise from progressive weakness have profound implications for the elderly, and therefore for modern society. Sarcopenia manifests as a death of muscle fibers and decrease in cross sectional area of surviving fibers, the triggers for this progressive loss of muscle remain largely unknown. We are particularly interested in the role the motor nerve terminal may play in driving sarcopenia, since progressive withdrawal of the motor nerve from the muscle fibre also seems to be a conspicuous feature of elderly muscle. We are currently examining age-related changes to the neuromuscular junction with a view to using this information to establish whether motor nerve withdrawal is a cause of muscle fibre death, or a consequence of it.

We use electrophysiology, electron microscopy, confocal microscopy, fluorescence and transmitted light microscopy, histochemistry, immunohistochemistry, and anterograde and retrograde cell tracing techniques.

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Selected publications

Lal, N., Cornwall, J., Slatter, T., & Sheard, P. W. (2020). Age-related changes in muscle morphology elucidatea role for myofibre fibrosis as an additional mechanism underpinning sarcopenia. Clinical Anatomy, 33(2), (pp. E38). doi: 10.1002/ca.23370

Lal, N., Cornwall, J., Slatter, T., & Sheard, P. W. (2020). Age-related changes in muscle architecture differentially obscure accurate myofibre counts: Is age-related decline in myofibre number a technical artefact? Clinical Anatomy, 33(2), (pp. E37-E38). doi: 10.1002/ca.23370

Gillon, A. P., Cornwall, J. E., & Sheard, P. W. (2020). Age-related neurodegeneration may be caused by defects at the nuclear envelope, and attenuated by exercise. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 39(Suppl. 2), (pp. 17). doi: 10.1111/ajag.12808

Lal, N., Cornwall, J., Slatter, T., Kleffmann, T., & Sheard, P. (2020). Proteomic differences between young, elderly, and exercised-elderly murine soleus muscles and their correlations with deficits in force production. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 39(Suppl. 2), (pp. 18). doi: 10.1111/ajag.12808

Sheard, P., Nielsen, K., Lal, N., & Cornwall, J. (2020). Structural alterations at the myotendinous junction in elderly and exercised mouse skeletal muscles. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 39(Suppl. 2), (pp. 17-18). doi: 10.1111/ajag.12808

Gillon, A., Steel, C., Cornwall, J., & Sheard, P. (2020). Increased nuclear permeability is a driver for age-related motoneuron loss. GeroScience, 42, 833-847. doi: 10.1007/s11357-020-00155-7

Sheard, P., Gillon, A., Nielsen, K., Lal, N., & Cornwall, J. (2019, September). Is sarcopenia a neurodegenerative disease? Verbal presentation at the Medical Sciences Congress (MedSci), Queenstown, New Zealand.

Davies, T. M., Schofield, M. R., Cornwall, J., & Sheard, P. W. (2019). Modelling multilevel spatial behaviour in binary-mark muscle fibre configurations. Annals of Applied Statistics, 13(3), 1329-1347. doi: 10.1214/18-AOAS1214

Lal, N., Cornwall, J., Slatter, T., & Sheard, P. (2018). Is myofiber death a major contributor to age-related skeletal muscle atrophy? Proceedings of the Australian & New Zealand Society for Sarcopenia & Frality Research (ANZSSFR) Annual Meeting. (pp. 22). Retrieved from https://anzssfr.org/past-meetings

Lal, N., Cornwall, J., Slatter, T., & Sheard, P. (2018). Identification of denervated fibers in elderly skeletal muscles. Proceedings of the Australian & New Zealand Society for Sarcopenia & Frality Research (ANZSSFR) Annual Meeting. (pp. 22). Retrieved from https://anzssfr.org/past-meetings

Gillon, A., Cornwall, J., & Sheard, P. (2018). Age-related skeletal muscle atrophy may be driven by defects at the motorneuron nuclear envelope. Proceedings of the Australian & New Zealand Society for Sarcopenia & Frality Research (ANZSSFR) Annual Meeting. (pp. 22). Retrieved from https://anzssfr.org/past-meetings

Sheard, P. (2018). Dissecting the cellular changes that drive age-related loss of skeletal muscle [Invited]. Proceedings of the Australian & New Zealand Society for Sarcopenia & Frality Research (ANZSSFR) Annual Meeting. (pp. 17). Retrieved from https://anzssfr.org/past-meetings

Tan, C. L., Sheard, P. W., & Jasoni, C. L. (2018). Developing neurites from mouse basal forebrain gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons use Sonic hedgehog to modulate their growth. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, 68, 89-97. doi: 10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2018.05.005

Gillon, A., Nielsen, K., Steel, C., Cornwall, J., & Sheard, P. (2018). Exercise attenuates age-associated changes in motoneuron number, nucleocytoplasmic transport proteins and neuromuscular health. GeroScience, 40, 177-192. doi: 10.1007/s11357-018-0020-4

Nielsen, K. B., Lal, N. N., & Sheard, P. W. (2018). Age-related remodelling of the myotendinous junction in the mouse soleus muscle. Experimental Gerontology, 104, 52-59. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2018.01.021

Hennebry, A., Oldham, J., Shavlakadze, T., Grounds, M. D., Sheard, P., Fiorotto, M. L., … McMahon, C. D. (2017). IGF1 stimulates greater muscle hypertrophy in the absence of myostatin in male mice. Journal of Endocrinology, 234(2), 187-200. doi: 10.1530/joe-17-0032

Nielsen, K., & Sheard, P. (2017). The protective role of endurance exercise in age-related loss of muscle mass. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 36(Suppl. 1), (pp. 21). doi: 10.1111/ajag.12395

Cornwall, J., Lal, N., Slatter, T., Rowlands, D., & Sheard, P. (2017). Autophagic dysfunction has a key role in age-related myofibre death. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 36(Suppl. 1), (pp. 20). doi: 10.1111/ajag.12395

Sheard, P., Brady, J., Nielsen, K., & Cornwall, J. (2017). Age and exercise-related changes in Neurotrophin-r and Neuregulin amongst mouse lumbar motoneurons. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 36(Suppl. 1), (pp. 20). doi: 10.1111/ajag.12395

White, Z., Terrill, J., White, R. B., McMahon, C., Sheard, P., Grounds, M. D., & Shavlakadze, T. (2016). Voluntary resistance wheel exercise from mid-life prevents sarcopenia and increases markers of mitochondrial function and autophagy in muscles of old male and female C57BL/6J mice. Skeletal Muscle, 6(1), 45. doi: 10.1186/s13395-016-0117-3

Davies, T. M., Sheard, P. W., & Cornwall, J. (2016). Comment on Makino et al. and observations on spatial modeling. Anatomical Science International, 91(4), 423-424. doi: 10.1007/s12565-016-0347-9

Cornwall, J., Farrell, S. F., & Sheard, P. W. (2016). Fibre types of human suboccipital muscles. European Journal of Anatomy, 20(1), 31-36.

Gillon, A., & Sheard, P. (2015). Elderly mouse skeletal muscle fibres have a diminished capacity to upregulate NCAM production in response to denervation. Biogerontology, 16(6), 811-823. doi: 10.1007/s10522-015-9608-6

Brady, J., Lal, N., & Sheard, P. (2015). Introducing an algorithm with user-defined parameters for improving consistency of immunofluorescence analysis. Proceedings of the 27th National Conference on Microscopy. Retrieved from http://microscopy2015.otago.ac.nz/index.html

Brady, J., & Sheard, P. (2015). Implementation of internal intensity controls for semi-quantitative fluorescence immunohistochemistry. Proceedings of the 27th National Conference on Microscopy. Retrieved from http://microscopy2015.otago.ac.nz/index.html

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