The effect of low protein diet on the development of the neuromuscular system


Age-related sarcopenia is characterised by reduction in the number of myofibres and motor neurons and an additional weakening of the remaining fibres, causing reduction in muscle mass and function. Studies associate these characteristics with influences during early stages of development, including maternal malnutrition. The project will use an established model of reduced protein intake (8% protein) in mice to determine the effect of in utero and/or post-natally on musculoskeletal development of the offspring. We hypothesise that a reduction in protein intake during fetal and early neonatal life results in altered neuromuscular development and this ultimately adversely influences whether older individuals can maintain good neuromuscular function as they age. We anticipate that the outcomes of this study will lead to a greater understanding of the role that diet plays on the processes underlying the loss of muscle mass and neuromuscular function in older individuals and hence to the logical development of interventions to correct these processes.

The student will receive a comprehensive research training in neuromuscular physiology including exposure to state-of-the-art confocal imaging, molecular approaches (e.g. PCR, SDS-PAGE) and cell culture techiques.

ILCaMs is fully committed to promoting gender equality in all activities. In recruitment we emphasize the supportive nature of the working environment and the flexible family support that the University provides. The Institute holds a silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of on-going commitment to ensuring that the Athena SWAN principles are embedded in its activities and strategic initiatives.


To apply: please send your CV and a covering letter to Dr Aphrodite Vasilaki


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Self-funded project

No institutional funding for the student stipend or fees for this studentship is available and a research bench fee of £10,000 p.a. will levied as a contribution to laboratory consumables and expenses.



  1. Ersoy Ufuk, Kanakis Ioannis, Alameddine Moussira, Pedraza-Vazquez Gibran, Ozanne Susan E, Peffers Mandy Jayne, Jackson Malcolm J, Goljanek-Whysall Katarzyna and Vasilaki Aphrodite (2023). Lifelong dietary protein restriction accelerates skeletal muscle loss and reduces muscle fibre size by impairing proteostasis and mitochondrial homeostasis. Redox biology, 69. 102980-.
  2. Kanakis Ioannis, Alameddine Moussira, Scalabrin Mattia, van't Hof Rob J, Liloglou Triantafillos, Ozanne Susan E, Goljanek-Whysall Katarzyna and Vasilaki Aphrodite (2020). Low protein intake during reproduction compromises the recovery of lactation‐induced bone loss in female mouse dams without affecting skeletal muscles. The FASEB Journal, 34 (9). pp. 11844-11859.