, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 813–821 | Cite as

Age-related site-specific muscle wasting of upper and lower extremities and trunk in Japanese men and women

  • Takashi AbeEmail author
  • Jeremy P. Loenneke
  • Robert S. Thiebaud
  • Tetsuo Fukunaga


The purpose of this study was to examine the age-related site-specific muscle loss of the upper and lower extremities and trunk in men and women. Japanese nonobese adults aged 20–79 (n = 1559, 52 % women) had muscle thickness (MTH) measured by ultrasound at nine sites on the anterior and posterior aspects of the body. An MTH ratio located in the anterior and posterior aspects of the upper arm, upper leg, lower leg, and trunk was calculated. Site-specific muscle loss was defined as a ratio of MTH > 2 standard deviations below the mean for young adults in each segment. Age was inversely correlated (p < 0.001) to upper-leg MTH ratio in men (r = −0.463) and women (r = −0.541). Age was correlated positively to upper-arm MTH ratio and inversely to trunk MTH ratio in men (r = 0.191 and r = −0.238, both p < 0.001) and women (r = 0.102, p = 0.004 and r = −0.446, p < 0.001). Weak correlations were observed between age and lower-leg MTH ratios in men (r = 0.015, p = 0.682) and women (r = 0.086, p = 0.015). The prevalence of site-specific upper-leg muscle loss showed an age-related increasing pattern in men (6 % for ages 30–39, 21 % for ages 50–59, and 38 % for ages 70–79) and women (15 % for ages 30–39, 32 % for ages 50–59, and 50 % for ages 70–79). For other segments, however, the prevalence rate of site-specific muscle loss was relatively low throughout the age groups in men and women, although higher rates were observed in the older group. These results suggest that the anterior/posterior MTH ratio of the upper leg may be useful in providing an earlier diagnosis for site-specific muscle loss.


Aging Thigh muscle thickness Skeletal muscle mass B-mode ultrasound 


  1. Aagaard P, Suetta C, Caserotti P, Magnusson SP, Kjaer M (2010) Role of the nervous system in sarcopenia and muscle atrophy with aging: strength training as a countermeasure. Scand J Med Sci Sports 20:49–64PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abe T, Kondo M, Kawakami Y, Fukunaga T (1994) Prediction equations for body composition of Japanese adults by B-mode ultrasound. Am J Hum Biol 6:161–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Abe T, Sakamaki M, Yasuda T, Bemben MG, Kondo M, Kawakami Y, Fukunaga T (2011a) Age-related, site-specific muscle loss in 1507 Japanese men and women aged 20 to 95 years. J Sports Sci Med 10:145–150PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Abe T, Kawakami Y, Kondo M, Fukunaga T (2011b) Comparison of ultrasound-measured age-related, site-specific muscle loss between healthy Japanese and German men. Clin Physiol Funct Imaging 31:320–325PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Abe T, Ogawa M, Loenneke JP, Thiebaud RS, Loftin M, Mitsukawa N (2012a) Relationship between site-specific loss of thigh muscle and gait performance in women: the HIREGASAKI study. Arch Gerontol Geriatr 55:e21–e25PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Abe T, Thiebaud RS, Loenneke JP, Loftin M, Bemben MG, Fukunaga T (2012b) Influence of severe sarcopenia on cardiovascular risk factors in nonobese men. Metab Syndr Relat Disord 10:407–412PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Abe T, Ogawa M, Loenneke JP, Thiebaud RS, Loftin M, Mitsukawa N (2013a) Association between site-specific muscle loss of lower body and one-leg standing balance in active women: the HIREGASAKI study. Geriatr Gerontol Int, doi: 10.1111/ggi.12112, published online: 07.07.2013
  8. Abe T, Thiebaud RS, Loenneke JP, Loftin M, Fukunaga T (2013b) Prevalence of site-specific thigh sarcopenia in Japanese men and women. Age (Dordr), doi: 10.1007/s11357-013-9539-6, published online: 18.05.2013
  9. Abe T, Dabbs NC, Nahar VK, Ford MA, Bass MA, Loftin M (2013c) Relationship between dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry-derived appendicular lean tissue mass and total body skeletal muscle mass estimated by ultrasound. Int J Clin Med 4:283–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Baumgartner RN, Koehler KM, Gallagher D, Romero L, Heymsfield SB, Ross R, Garry PJ, Linderman RD (1998) Epidemiology of sarcopenia among the elderly in New Mexico. Am J Epidemiol 147:755–763PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Beyer I, Mets T, Bautmans I (2012) Chronic low-grade inflammation and age-related sarcopenia. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Matab Care 15:12–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bijlsma AY, Meskers CGM, Ling CH, Narici M, Kurrle SE, Cameron ID, Westendrorp RG, Maier AB (2013) Defining sarcopenia: the impact of different diagnostic criteria on the prevalence of sarcopenia in a large middle aged cohort. Age (Dordr) 35:871–881CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brozek J, Grande F, Anderson JT, Keys A (1963) Densitometric analysis of body composition: revision of some quantitative assumptions. Ann N Y Acad Sci 110:113–140PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bunout D, de la Maza MP, Barrera G, Leiva L, Hirsch S (2011) Association between sarcopenia and mortality in healthy older people. Australas J Aging 30:89–92Google Scholar
  15. Burns JM, Johnson DK, Wa0s A, Swerdlow RH, Brooks WM (2010) Reduced lean mass in early Alzheimer disease and its association with brain atrophy. Arch Neurol 67:428–433Google Scholar
  16. Frontera WR, Reid KF, Phillips EM, Krivickas LS, Hughes VA, Roubenoff R, Fielding RA (2008) Muscle fiber size and function in elderly humans: a longitudinal study. J Appl Physiol 105:637–642PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Janssen I (2010) Evolution of sarcopenia research. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 35:707–712Google Scholar
  18. Janssen I, Heymsfield SB, Ross R (2002) Low relative skeletal muscle mass (sarcopenia) in older persons is associated with functional impairment and physical disability. J Am Getriatr Soc 50:889–896CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Klein CS, Peterson LB, Ferrell S, Thomas CK (2010) Sensitivity of 24-h EMG duration and intensity in the human vastus lateralis muscle to threshold changes. J Appl Physiol 108:655–661PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mitchell WK, Williams J, Atherton P, Larvin M, Lund J, Narici M (2012) Sarcopenia, dynapenia, and the impact of advancing age on human skeletal muscle size and strength; a quantitative review. Front Physiol 3:260PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Newman AB, Kupelian V (2003) Sarcopenia: alternative definitions and associations with lower extremity function. J Am Geriatr Soc 51:1602–1609PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ogawa M, Yasuda T, Abe T (2012a) Component characteristics of thigh muscle volume in young and older healthy men. Clin Physiol Funct Imaging 32:89–93PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ogawa M, Mitsukawa N, Loftin M, Abe T (2012b) Association of vigorous physical activity with age-related, site-specific loss of thigh muscle in women: the HIREGASAKI study. J Trainol 1:6–9Google Scholar
  24. Park SW, Goodpaster BH, Lee JS, Kuller L, Boudreau R, De Rekeneire N, Harris TB, Kritchevsky S, Tylavsky FA, Nevitt M, Cho YW, Newman AB, Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study (2009) Excessive loss of skeletal muscle mass in older adults with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 32:1993–1997PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Power GA, Dalton BH, Behm DG, Doherty TJ, Vandervoort AA, Rice CL (2012) Motor unit survival in lifelong runners is muscle dependent. Med Sci Sports Exerc 44:1235–1242PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rosenberg IH (1997) Sarcopenia: origins and clinical relevance. J Nutr 127:990S–991SPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Ryall JG, Schertzer JD, Lynch GS (2008) Cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying age-related skeletal muscle wasting and weakness. Biogerontol 9:213–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Saeterbakken AH, Fimland MS (2012) Muscle activity of the core during bilateral, unilateral, seated and standing resistance exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 112:1671–1678PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sanada K, Kearns CF, Midorikawa T, Abe T (2006) Prediction and validation of total and regional skeletal muscle mass by ultrasound in Japanese adults. Eur J Appl Physiol 96:24–31PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sawai S, Sanematsu H, Kanehisa H, Tsunoda N, Fukunaga T (2006) Sexual-related difference in the level of muscular activity of trunk and lower limb during basic daily life actions. Jap J Phys Fitness Sports Med 55:247–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Shirasawa H, Kanehisa H, Kouzaki M, Masani K, Fukunaga T (2009) Differences among lower leg muscles in long-term activity during ambulatory condition without any moderate to high intensity exercise. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 19:e50–e56PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tikkanen O, Haakana P, Pesola AJ, Hakkinen K, Rantalainen T, Havu M, Pullinen T, Finni T (2013) Muscle activity and inactivity periods during normal daily life. PLoS One 8:e52228PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. WHO (2000) Obesity: preventing and managing the global epidemic. Report of a WHO Consultation. WHO Technical Report Series 894, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© American Aging Association 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takashi Abe
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jeremy P. Loenneke
    • 2
  • Robert S. Thiebaud
    • 2
  • Tetsuo Fukunaga
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Kinesiology, School of Public HealthIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health and Exercise ScienceUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  3. 3.National Institute of Fitness and Sports in KanoyaKanoyaJapan

Personalised recommendations