Mitochondrial function is impaired in the skeletal muscle of pre-frail elderly

Sci Rep. 2018 Jun 4;8(1):8548. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-26944-x.


Aging is accompanied by a gradual decline in both muscle mass and strength over time, which can eventually lead to pathologies, such as frailty and sarcopenia. While these two conditions are well characterized, further investigation of the early biological signs present in pre-frail elderly is still needed to help identify strategies for preventative therapeutic intervention. The goal of the present clinical study was to evaluate the level of mitochondrial (dys)function in a well-defined population of pre-frail elderly (>60 years of age). Pre-frail elderly were compared with an age-matched population of active elderly. Muscle mitochondrial function was assessed in vivo using phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy (31P-MRS) and a comprehensive set of biological biomarkers were measured ex vivo in vastus lateralis muscle biopsies. In pre-frail subjects, phosphocreatine recovery was impaired and mitochondrial respiratory complex protein and activity levels were significantly lower when compared with active elderly. Analysis of microarray data showed that mitochondrial genes were also significantly down-regulated in muscle of pre-frail compared to active elderly. These results show that mitochondrial impairment is a hallmark of pre-frailty development and the onset of decline in muscle function in the elderly.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Aging / pathology
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Sarcopenia / metabolism*
  • Sarcopenia / pathology


  • Biomarkers