Circulating Interleukin-6 is Associated with Skeletal Muscle Strength, Quality, and Functional Adaptation with Exercise Training in Mobility-Limited Older Adults
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Human aging is characterized by a chronic, low-grade inflammation suspected to contribute to reductions in skeletal muscle size, strength, and function. Inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), may play a role in the reduced skeletal muscle adaptive response seen in older individuals.
To investigate relationships between circulating IL-6, skeletal muscle health and exercise adaptation in mobility-limited older adults.
Randomized controlled trial.
Exercise laboratory on the Health Sciences campus of an urban university.
99 mobility-limited (Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) ≤9) older adults.
6-month structured physical activity with or without a protein and vitamin D nutritional supplement.
Circulating IL-6, skeletal muscle size, composition (percent normal density muscle tissue), strength, power, and specific force (strength/CSA) as well as physical function (gait speed, stair climb time, SPPB-score) were measured pre- and post-intervention.
At baseline, Spearman’s correlations demonstrated an inverse relationship (P<0.05) between circulating IL-6 and thigh muscle composition (r = -0.201), strength (r = -0.311), power (r = -0.210), and specific force (r = -0.248), and positive association between IL-6 and stair climb time (r = 0.256; P<0.05). Although the training program did not affect circulating IL-6 levels (P=0.69), reductions in IL-6 were associated with gait speed improvements (r = -0.487; P<0.05) in “higher” IL-6 individuals (>1.36 pg/ml). Moreover, baseline IL-6 was inversely associated (P<0.05) with gains in appendicular lean mass and improvements in SPPB score (r = -0.211 and -0.237, respectively).
These findings implicate age-related increases in circulating IL-6 as an important contributor to declines in skeletal muscle strength, quality, function, and training-mediated adaptation. Given the pervasive nature of inflammation among older adults, novel therapeutic strategies to reduce IL-6 as a means of preserving skeletal muscle health are enticing.
Key wordsInflammation IL-6 sarcopenia older adults aging
We thank our participants for their time and efforts that made this study possible.
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