Skeletal muscle function deficit: a new terminology to embrace the evolving concepts of sarcopenia and age-related muscle dysfunction

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2014 May;69(5):591-4. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glt208.


Background: Concerns remain as to the best terminology to embrace sarcopenia's evolving conceptualization. Many of these concerns stem from the fact that age-related decrements in muscle performance associated with physical impairment are only partially explained by decreases in muscle mass and that other pathophysiologic factors contribute to age-related impairments in muscle performance.

Methods: Review of literature on the evolving conceptualization of sarcopenia since its early definition in 1989 and concerns with terminology.

Results: Early definitions of sarcopenia were based solely on muscle mass in relationship to the range of muscle within a reference population. Subsequent definitions added performance criteria to muscle mass alone. The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health Sarcopenia Project identified criteria for clinically relevant low muscle strength (weakness) and low lean mass. Progress on the sarcopenia's evolving definitions has not been accompanied by recommendations on specific terminologies that address the lack of sufficient specificity from the use of an anatomic term to define a functional condition with numerous now known nonanatomic contributory factors. Skeletal Muscle Function Deficit is a broader construct that accommodates a set of diagnoses that includes both sarcopenia and other age-related muscle dysfunctions.

Conclusions: Skeletal Muscle Function Deficit is proposed as a new terminology to embrace the evolving conceptualization of sarcopenia and other age-related muscle dysfunctions. It comprises a variety of contributory etiologies and has the potential to provide a framework for developing diagnostic categories that are useful for both clinical practice and research.

Keywords: Deficit.; Muscle function; Muscle strength; Muscle weakness; Sarcopenia; Skeletal muscle; Skeletal muscle function deficit.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Sarcopenia / diagnosis*
  • Sarcopenia / physiopathology*
  • Terminology as Topic
  • United States