Dysregulated homeostatic pathways in sarcopenia among frail older adults

T.P. Ng, Y. Lu, R.W.M. Choo, C.T.Y. Tan, M.S.Z. Nyunt, Q. Gao, E.W.H. Mok, A. Larbi

Aging Cell. 2018 Oct 9:e12842. doi: 10.1111/acel.12842. [Epub ahead of print]

Sarcopenia, a core feature of the physical frailty syndrome, is characterized by multisystem physiological dysregulation. No study has explored qualitatively the hierarchical network of relationships among different dysregulated pathways involved in the pathogenesis of sarcopenia.

We used 40 blood biomarkers belonging to community-dwelling prefrail and frail older persons to derive measures of multiple physiological pathways, and structural equation modeling to generate path network models of the multisystem physiological dysregulations associated with muscle mass and function (MMF). Insulin-leptin signaling and energy regulation, anabolic sex steroid regulation (testosterone, leptin), and tissue oxygenation (hemoglobin, red cell count) appear to be primary mediating factors exerting direct influences on MMF. There was additionally secondary mediatory involvement of myocyte- and adipocyte-derived cytokines, hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) stress hormones (cortisol, DHEAS), glomerular function, and immune cell regulatory and inflammatory cytokines and glycoproteins. 

Comment: We conclude that within a hierarchical network of multisystem physiological dysregulations in sarcopenia, dysregulated anabolic and catabolic pathways via sex steroids and insulin-leptin dual signaling and tissue hypoxemia are primary physiological dysregulations responsible for sarcopenia and frailty.