Greater Skeletal Muscle Oxidative Capacity Is Associated With Higher Resting Metabolic Rate: Results From the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2020 Nov 13;75(12):2262-2268. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glaa071.


Resting metabolic rate (RMR) tends to decline with aging. The age-trajectory of decline in RMR is similar to changes that occur in muscle mass, muscle strength, and fitness, but while the decline in these phenotypes has been related to changes of mitochondrial function and oxidative capacity, whether lower RMR is associated with poorer mitochondrial oxidative capacity is unknown. In 619 participants of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, we analyzed the cross-sectional association between RMR (kcal/day), assessed by indirect calorimetry, and skeletal muscle maximal oxidative phosphorylation capacity, assessed as postexercise phosphocreatine recovery time constant (τ PCr), by phosphorous magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Linear regression models were used to evaluate the relationship between τ PCr and RMR, adjusting for potential confounders. Independent of age, sex, lean body mass, muscle density, and fat mass, higher RMR was significantly associated with shorter τ PCr, indicating greater mitochondrial oxidative capacity. Higher RMR is associated with a higher mitochondrial oxidative capacity in skeletal muscle. This association may reflect a relationship between better muscle quality and greater mitochondrial health.

Keywords: Biology of aging; Metabolism; Mitochondria; Muscles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Baltimore
  • Basal Metabolism / physiology*
  • Body Composition
  • Calorimetry, Indirect
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Prospective Studies