Sarcopenia as the Biological Substrate of Physical Frailty

Clin Geriatr Med. 2015 Aug;31(3):367-74. doi: 10.1016/j.cger.2015.04.005. Epub 2015 May 6.


Physical function decreases with aging, which may result in adverse outcomes (eg, disability, loss of independence, institutionalization, death). Physical function impairment is a common trait of frailty and sarcopenia. These two conditions, albeit highly common, have not yet received a unique operational definition, which has impeded their implementation in standard practice. Here, we introduce a conceptual model in which sarcopenia is proposed as the biological substrate and the pathway whereby the consequences of physical frailty develop. This conceptualization may open new venues for the design of interventions against physical frailty and promote the translation of findings to the clinical arena.

Keywords: Aging; Disability; Operationalization; Physical performance; Skeletal muscle.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Aging* / physiology
  • Aging* / psychology
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • Frail Elderly
  • Humans
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Sarcopenia* / diagnosis
  • Sarcopenia* / etiology
  • Sarcopenia* / physiopathology
  • Sarcopenia* / prevention & control