Resting metabolic rate and respiratory quotient in human longevity

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Jan;90(1):409-13. doi: 10.1210/jc.2004-0390. Epub 2004 Oct 13.


Significant changes in body composition, body fat distribution, and resting metabolic rate (RMR) occur with aging. Interestingly, studies on human longevity pointed out that long-lived subjects are less prone to the anthropometrics and metabolic derangement normally observed in the elderly. Indeed, the relationship between energy expenditure and longevity has been poorly investigated. Thus, energy expenditure parameters of 28 long-lived subjects were assessed and compared with those of 26 adults and 27 younger elderly. All subjects enrolled were female. In the whole population, RMR was negatively correlated with age (P < 0.05), waist to hip ratio (WHR) (P < 0.001), fat mass (P < 0.001), and percent body fat (P < 0.03); respiratory quotient (Rq) displayed an age-related decrease (P < 0.001) and was negatively correlated with WHR (P < 0.001) and fat-free mass (FFM) (P < 0.006). In multivariate analysis, both RMR and Rq had FFM, WHR, but not body mass index as significant and independent determinants. Splitting the whole study group into subgroups according to age, long-lived subjects had oxygen volume, carbon dioxide volume, and Rq significantly higher than aged subjects but lower than adult subjects. In addition, long-lived subjects had total volume of expired air and RMR greater than aged subjects but not different from ones found in adults. In long-lived subjects, Rq was negatively correlated with percent body fat (P < 0.02), plasma glucose (P < 0.05), free fatty acid (P < 0.05), and WHR (P < 0.05), whereas RMR was negatively correlated with WHR (P < 0.05). No significant associations of RMR and Rq with FFM were found. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that human longevity seems protected toward an age-related decline. It is likely that the lack of the anthropometrics derangement may preserve long-lived subjects from the age-related decrease in energy metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Basal Metabolism*
  • Body Composition
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longevity*
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiration*
  • Waist-Hip Ratio