Frailty and sarcopenia: definitions and outcome parameters

Osteoporos Int. 2012 Jul;23(7):1839-48. doi: 10.1007/s00198-012-1913-1.


An operational definition of musculoskeletal decline in older people is needed to allow development of interventions for prevention or treatment, as was developed for the treatment of osteoporosis. Frailty and sarcopenia are linked, but distinct, correlates of musculoskeletal aging that have many causes, including age-related changes in body composition, inflammation, and hormonal imbalance. With the emergence of a number of exciting candidate therapies to retard the loss of muscle mass with aging, the derivation of a consensual definition of sarcopenia and physical frailty becomes an urgent priority. Although several consensual definitions have been proposed, these require clinical validation. An operational definition, which might provide a threshold for treatment/trial inclusion, should incorporate a loss of muscle mass as well as evidence of a decrease in muscle strength and/or physical activity. Evidence is required for a link between improvements in the measures of muscle strength and/or physical activity and clinical outcomes to allow development of interventions to improve clinical outcomes in frail older patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Humans
  • Osteoporosis / physiopathology
  • Sarcopenia / diagnosis
  • Sarcopenia / epidemiology
  • Sarcopenia / physiopathology*