Background: Poor muscle strength is a major public health concern in older persons, predisposing to functional limitations, increased fall risk, and higher mortality. Understanding risk factors for muscle strength decline may offer opportunities for prevention and treatment. One of the possible causes of muscle strength decline is imbalance between catabolic and anabolic signaling. This study aims to examine whether high levels of multiple catabolic and low levels of multiple anabolic biomarkers predict accelerated decline of muscle strength.
Methods: In a representative sample of 716 men and women aged >or=65 years in the InCHIANTI study we measured C-reactive protein, interleukin-6 (IL-6), IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA), tumor necrosis factor-alpha receptor 1 as well as dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), insulin-like growth factor-1, and bioavailable testosterone. Biomarker values were divided into tertiles and the numbers of catabolic/anabolic biomarkers in the highest/lowest tertile were calculated. Hand-grip strength was measured at baseline and 3- and 6-year follow up.
Results: In adjusted linear mixed models, higher concentration of IL-6 (p = 0.02) and IL-1RA (p = 0.04) as well as lower levels of DHEA-S (p = 0.01) predicted muscle strength decline. After combining all inflammatory markers, the rate of decline in grip strength was progressively greater with the increasing number of dysregulated catabolic biomarkers (p = 0.01). No effect on accelerated muscle strength decline was seen according to number of dysregulated anabolic hormones.
Conclusions: Having multiple elevated catabolic biomarkers is a better predictor of muscle strength decline than a single biomarker alone, suggesting that a catabolic dysregulation is at the core of the mechanism leading to muscle strength decline with aging.