Sarcopenia: an overview

Aging Clin Exp Res. 2017 Feb;29(1):11-17. doi: 10.1007/s40520-016-0704-5. Epub 2017 Feb 2.


Sarcopenia, the age-dependent loss of muscle mass and function, is a common condition among older adults, and is associated with several adverse health outcomes. Owing to the impact of sarcopenia on quality of life, disability and mortality, a greater awareness is necessary in order to correctly identify the condition both in community and geriatric settings. Research on sarcopenia prevention and treatment is developing quickly, but many questions are still unanswered. The core of the sarcopenia condition involves quantitative and qualitative losses of skeletal muscle. These two dimensions should therefore be considered when designing and testing preventive and therapeutic interventions. The recently released operationalization of sarcopenia by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) Sarcopenia Project allows for the framing of an objective, standardized, and clinically relevant condition, which should facilitate its translation into the clinical arena as well as its adoption by public health and regulatory agencies. Such a conceptualization might eventually encourage key stakeholders to combine their efforts in approaching the sarcopenia condition. Bearing these considerations in mind, the "Sarcopenia and Physical fRailty IN older people: multi-componenT Treatment strategies" project has operationalized a specific condition, named physical frailty and sarcopenia (PF&S), characterized by the combination of low physical performance (based on the Short Physical Performance Battery) and low muscle mass (according to the FNIH cut-points). A randomized controlled trial will be conducted to evaluate the efficacy of a multi-component intervention for preventing mobility disability and other adverse health outcomes in older adults with PF&S.

Keywords: Disability; Muscle mass; Muscle strength; Physical function; Prevention; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Sarcopenia / complications
  • Sarcopenia / physiopathology
  • Sarcopenia / prevention & control*