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Developmental influences, muscle morphology, and sarcopenia in community-dwelling older men

Patel, H.P., Jameson, K.A., Syddall, H.E., Martin, H.J., Stewart, C.E. and Cooper, C. (2012) Developmental influences, muscle morphology, and sarcopenia in community-dwelling older men The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 67A, (1), pp. 82-87. (doi:10.1093/gerona/glr020). (PMID:21357193).

Record type: Article


Background. Sarcopenia is associated with disability, morbidity, and mortality. Lower birth weight is associated with reduced muscle mass and strength in older people, suggesting that developmental influences are important in sarcopenia. However, underlying mechanisms are unknown. Our objective was to determine whether low birth weight is associated with altered skeletal muscle morphology in older men.

Methods. Ninety-nine men with historical records of birth weight (?3.18 kg and ?3.63 kg), aged 68–76 years, consented for detailed characterization of muscle, including a biopsy of the vastus lateralis. Tissue was processed for immunohistochemical studies and analyzed to determine myofibre density, area, and score.

Results. Muscle fibre score (fibres kilograms per square millimeter) was significantly reduced in those with lower birth weight: 1.5 × 103 vs 1.7 × 103, p = .04 unadjusted; p = .09 adjusted for age, height, and physical activity. In addition, there was a trend for reduced myofibre density (fibres per square millimeter) in those with lower birth weight: total fibre density: 176 vs 184, type I myofibre density: 77 vs 80, and type II myofibre density: 99 vs 105. Types I and II myofibre areas (square micrometers) were larger in those with lower birth weight: type I: 4903 vs 4643 and type II: 4046 vs 3859. However, none of these differences were statistically significant.

Conclusions. This is the first study showing that lower birth weight is associated with a significant decrease in muscle fibre score, suggesting that developmental influences on muscle morphology may explain the widely reported associations between lower birth weight and sarcopenia. However, the study may have been underpowered and did not include women supporting replication in larger cohorts of older men and women.

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 28 February 2011
Published date: January 2012
Keywords: development, muscle morphology, sarcopenia
Organisations: Faculty of Health Sciences


Local EPrints ID: 336968
ISSN: 1079-5006
PURE UUID: 5981e721-b069-49e8-b800-05ffd81565a2
ORCID for H.E. Syddall: ORCID iD
ORCID for C. Cooper: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 12 Apr 2012 10:28
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 06:05

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Author: H.P. Patel
Author: K.A. Jameson
Author: H.E. Syddall ORCID iD
Author: H.J. Martin
Author: C.E. Stewart
Author: C. Cooper ORCID iD

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