Relationship between serum ferritin levels and sarcopenia in Korean females aged 60 years and older using the fourth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES IV-2, 3), 2008-2009

Tae Ho Kim, Hee-Jin Hwang, Sang-Hwan Kim
PloS One 2014, 9 (2): e90105

CONTEXT: It has been suggested that elevated serum ferritin is associated with several metabolic disorders. However, there is no reported study assessing any association between serum ferritin and sarcopenia despite the close relationship between sarcopenia and metabolic disorders.

OBJECTIVE: We investigated whether serum ferritin was associated with sarcopenia in older Koreans.

DESIGN AND SETTING: We conducted a cross-sectional study based on data acquired in the second and third years (2008-9) of the fourth Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

PARTICIPANTS: In total, 952 men (mean age 69.0 years) and 1,380 women (mean age 69.3 years) aged 60 years and older completed a body composition study using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry.

MEASUREMENTS: Serum ferritin levels were measured. Sarcopenia was defined as an appendicular skeletal mass as a percentage of body weight that was less than two standard deviations below the gender-specific mean for young adults.

RESULTS: Serum ferritin levels were lower in women than in men. Women with sarcopenia showed a higher level of serum ferritin than women without sarcopenia (men: without sarcopenia 115.7 ng/mL and with sarcopenia 134.4 ng/mL vs. women: without sarcopenia 70.7 ng/mL and with sarcopenia 85.4 ng/mL). The prevalence of sarcopenia increased as the tertile of serum ferritin increased. However, statistical significance was only seen in elderly women (1(st) tertile 6.3%, 2(nd) tertile 8.0%, 3(rd) tertile 12.0%; p = 0.008). Without adjustment, compared with those in the lowest tertile of serum ferritin level, participants in the highest tertile had an odds ratio of 2.02 (95% confidence interval = 1.26-3.23) for sarcopenia in women. After adjusting for known risk factors, the OR for sarcopenia was 1.74 (95% CI = 1.02-2.97) in women. There was no statistically significant association between sarcopenia and serum ferritin tertiles in men.

CONCLUSIONS: Elevated serum ferritin levels were associated with an increased prevalence of sarcopenia in women but not in men from a representative sample of elderly Koreans.

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