Muscles occur in surprising places in your body.
When most people think of muscles, they see “Ah-nold” and his biceps in the Terminator movies. But did you know that muscles also occur in your blood vessels, heart, brain, and intestines? Biceps are important, but some of these other muscles are more important than biceps. Scientists have good evidence that Hyaluronan is important to the health of those different types of muscles.
Healthy muscles require a delicate balance between building up and breaking down muscle. This delicate balance is partially dependent on a layer of supporting biomolecules. HA is an important component of this layer.
Starting during pregnancy, HA in the support layer allows embryonic muscle cells to grow in number and to migrate to their final place in the body (Leng, et al., 2019). Later in life, HA in the muscle-supporting layer plays an important role in maintaining healthy muscle.
When muscle is not broken down appropriately or grows in uncontrolled way, muscle cannot perform correctly. A good example of this is when the muscle in the heart overgrows its normal thickness. This weakens the heart and places people at risk of dying because hearts with too much muscle cannot pump blood effectively. Scientists have evidence that HA being broken down too quickly into small fragments might contribute to overgrowth of the heart muscle by reducing the ability of the cardiac muscle support layer to maintain optimal muscle thickness (Calve, et al., 2012).
On the other hand, when muscles are damaged, the body acts to increase the amount of HA present because that helps the muscle to heal. There is evidence that HA might play a role in regenerating heart muscle after a heart attack (Missinato, et al., 2015; Wang, et al., 2019).
Strong muscles are important because strong muscles and strong joints go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. So, in the next sections, we will tell you two human interest case study stories about how HA benefits joints and then we will describe why HA is important to joint health.