Inflammatory markers and loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia) and strength

Laura A Schaap, Saskia M F Pluijm, Dorly J H Deeg, Marjolein Visser

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


PURPOSE: The objective of this study was to investigate whether high levels of serum interleukin (IL)-6, C-reactive protein (CRP), and alpha1-antichymotrypsin (ACT) were associated with the loss of muscle strength or muscle mass (sarcopenia) in older persons.

SUBJECTS: The study included 986 men and women of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam, with a mean age of 74.6 years (standard deviation 6.2).

METHODS: Grip strength (n = 986) and appendicular muscle mass (n = 328, using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) were obtained in 1995 and 1996 and repeated after a 3-year follow-up. Loss of muscle strength was defined as a loss of grip strength greater than 40%, and sarcopenia was defined as a loss of muscle mass greater than 3%, approximating the lowest 15% of the study sample.

RESULTS: Multiple linear and logistic regression analyses revealed that higher levels of IL-6 were associated with greater decline in muscle strength, which decreased by -3.21 kg (standard error 0.81) per standard deviation increase in log-transformed IL-6. After adjustment for confounders, including sociodemographic, health, and lifestyle factors, high IL-6 (>5 pg/mL) and high CRP (>6.1 mug/mL) were associated with a 2 to 3-fold greater risk of losing greater than 40% of muscle strength. Persons with high levels of ACT (>181% of the normal human pooled plasma) were 40% less likely to experience loss of muscle strength and tended (P = .07) to have a smaller decline in muscle mass compared with those in the lowest quartile of ACT. No consistent associations of IL-6 and CRP with sarcopenia were found.

CONCLUSION: The findings of this prospective, population-based study suggest that higher levels of IL-6 and CRP increase the risk of muscle strength loss, whereas higher levels of ACT decrease the risk of muscle strength loss in older men and women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526.e9-17
JournalThe American Journal of Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006


  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Biomarkers
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Confounding Factors (Epidemiology)
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-6
  • Linear Models
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Muscular Atrophy
  • Prospective Studies
  • alpha 1-Antichymotrypsin
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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