JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Sarcopenia

Anne Tournadre, Gaelle Vial, Frédéric Capel, Martin Soubrier, Yves Boirie
Joint, Bone, Spine: Revue du Rhumatisme 2019, 86 (3): 309-314
30098424
Sarcopenia is defined as a combination of low muscle mass with low muscle function. The term was first used to designate the loss of muscle mass and performance associated with aging. Now, recognized causes of sarcopenia also include chronic disease, a physically inactive lifestyle, loss of mobility, and malnutrition. Sarcopenia should be differentiated from cachexia, which is characterized not only by low muscle mass but also by weight loss and anorexia. Sarcopenia results from complex and interdependent pathophysiological mechanisms that include aging, physical inactivity, neuromuscular compromise, resistance to postprandial anabolism, insulin resistance, lipotoxicity, endocrine factors, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and inflammation. The prevalence of sarcopenia ranges from 3% to 24% depending on the diagnostic criteria used and increases with age. Among patients with rheumatoid arthritis 20% to 30% have sarcopenia, which correlates with disease severity. Sarcopenia exacts a heavy toll of functional impairment, metabolic disorders, morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs. Thus, the consequences of sarcopenia include disability, quality of life impairments, falls, osteoporosis, dyslipidemia, an increased cardiovascular risk, metabolic syndrome, and immunosuppression. The adverse effects of sarcopenia are particularly great in patients with a high fat mass, a condition known as sarcopenic obesity. The diagnosis of sarcopenia rests on muscle mass measurements and on functional tests that evaluate either muscle strength or physical performance (walking, balance). No specific biomarkers have been identified to date. The management of sarcopenia requires a multimodal approach combining a sufficient intake of high-quality protein and fatty acids, physical exercise, and antiinflammatory medications. Selective androgen receptor modulators and anti-myostatin antibodies are being evaluated as potential stimulators of muscle anabolism.

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