Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy shows lower intramyocellular lipid accumulation in middle-aged subjects predisposed to familial longevity

C. A. Wijsman, A. M. van Opstal, H. E. Kan, A. B. Maier, R. G.J. Westendorp, P. E. Slagboom, A. G. Webb, S. P. Mooijaart, D. van Heemst*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Families predisposed to longevity show enhanced glucose tolerance and skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity compared with controls, independent of body composition and physical activity. Intramyocellular lipid (IMCL) accumulation in skeletal muscle has been associated with insulin resistance. Here, we assessed whether subjects enriched for familial longevity have lower IMCL levels. We determined IMCL levels in 48 subjects from the Leiden Longevity Study, comprising 24 offspring of nonagenarian siblings and 24 partners thereof as control subjects. IMCL levels were assessed noninvasively using short echo time proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ( 1H-MRS) of the tibialis anterior muscle with a 7 Tesla human MR scanner. IMCL levels were calculated relative to the total creatine (tCr) CH3 signal. Physical activity was assessed using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ). After correction for age, sex, BMI, and physical activity, offspring of long-lived nonagenarian siblings tended to show lower IMCL levels compared with controls (IMCL/tCr: 3.1 ± 0.5 vs. 4.5 ± 0.5, respectively, P = 0.051). In a pairwise comparison, this difference reached statistical significance (P = 0.038). We conclude that offspring of nonagenarian siblings predisposed to longevity show lower IMCL levels compared with environmentally matched control subjects. Future research should focus on assessing what mechanisms may explain the lower IMCL levels in familial longevity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-348
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012



  • Aging
  • Insulin resistance
  • Metabolism
  • Skeletal muscle

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