Pathophysiology of Body Composition Changes in Elderly People

  • Alessandra Coin
  • Giuseppe Sergi
  • Emine M. Inelmen
  • Giuliano Enzi


Aging is associated with changes in body composition that have important consequences on health and physical function. Thus, studying body composition changes is of increasing interest in geriatric research, and measures are being developed to favourably influence body composition in old age, in addition to exercise and diet.


Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis Body Composition Change Skeletal Muscle Index Appendicular Skeletal Muscle Mass Total Body Potassium 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Borkan GA, Norris AH (1977) Fat redistribution and the changing body dimensions of the adult male. Hum Biol 49:495–514PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Schoeller DA (1989) Changes in total body water with age. Am J Clin Nutr 50(Suppl):1176–1181PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Forbes GB, Reina JC (1970) Adult lean body mass declines with age: some longitudinal observations. Metabolism 19:653–663PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Calloway NO, Foley CF, Lagerbloom P (1965) Uncertainties in geriatric data. II. Organ size. J Am Geriatr Soc 13:20–28PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Mazess RB (1982) On aging bone loss. Clin Orthop Relat Res 165:239–249PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Baungartner RN, Stauber PM, McHugh D et al (1995) Cross-sectional age differences in body composition in persons 60+ years of age. J Gerontol Med Sci 50:M307–M316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bortz WM (1982) Disuse and aging. JAMA 248:1203–1208PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ley CJ, Lees B, Stevenson JC (1992) Sexand menopause-associated changes in body fat distribution. Am J Clin Nutr 55:950–954PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Chumlea WC, Baumgartner RN, Garry PJ et al (1992) Fat distribution and blood lipids in a sample of healthy elderly people. Int J Obesity 16:125–133Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Anonymous (1992) Health data on older Americans. National Center for Health Statistics, United States. Series 3, no 27. Gvernment Printing Office, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Roche AF (1994) Sarcopenia: a critical review of its measurement and health-related significance in the middle-aged and elderly. Am J Hum Biol 6:33–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Baumgartner RN (1993) Body composition in elderly persons: a critical review of needs and methods. Prog Food Nutr Sci 17:223–260PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Norris AH, Lundy T, Shock NW (1963) Trends in selected indices of body composition in men between the ages of 30 and 80 years. Ann NY Acad Sci 110:623–639PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Novak LP (1972) Aging, total body potassium, fat-free mass, and cell mass in males and females between age 18 and 85 years. J Gerontol 27:438–443PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Cohn SH, Vaswani A, Zanzi I etal (1976) Changes in body chemical composition with age measured by total body neutron activation. Metabolism 25:85–95PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bruce A, Andersson M, Arvidsson B, Isaksson B (1980) Body composition. Prediction of normal body potassium, body water and body fat in adults on the basis of body height, body weight and age. Scand J Clin Lab Invest 40:461–473PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Huges VA, Frontera WR, Roubenoff R et al (2002) Longitudinal changes in body composition in older men and women: role of body weight change and physical activity. Am J Clin Nutr 76:473–481Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Visser M, Pahor M, Tylavsky F et al (2003) Oneand two-year change in body composition as measured by DXA in a population-based cohort of older men and women. J Appl Physiol 94:2368–2374PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Zamboni M, Zoico E, Scartezzini T et al (2003) Body composition changes in stable weight elderly subjects: the effects of sex. Aging Clin Exp Res 15:321–327PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Fried SK, Bunkin DA, Greenberg AS (1998) Omental and subcutaneous adipose tissues of obese subjects release interleukin-6: depot difference and regulation by glucocorticoid. J Clin Endocr Metab 83:847–850PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Kern PA, Ranganathan S, Li C et al(2001) Adipose tissue tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6 expression in human obesity and insulin resistance. Am J Physiol Endocr Metab 280:E745–E751Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Dandona P, Weinstock R, Thusu K et al (1998) Tumor necrosis factor-alpha in sera of obese patients: fall with loss. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 83:2907–2910PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Katsuki A, Sumida Y, Murashima S et al (1998) Serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha are increased in obese patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 83:859–862PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Garaulet M, Pere-Llamas F, Fuente T et al (2000) Anthropometric, computed tomography and fat cell data in an obese population: relationship with insulin, leptin, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, sex hormone-binding globulin and sex hormones. Eur J Endocrinol 143:657–666PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Bertin E, Nguyen P, Guenounou M et al (2000) Plasma levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) are essentially dependent on visceral fat amount in type 2 diabetic patients. Diabetes Metab 26:178–182PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Pedersen M, Bruunsgaard H, Weis N et al (2003) Circulating levels of TNF-alpha and IL-6 in relation to truncal fat mass and muscle mass in healthy elderly individuals and in patients with type-2 diabetes. Mech Ageing Dev 124:495–502PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Enzi G, Gasparo M, Biondetti PR et al (1986) Subcutaneous and visceral fat distribution according to sex, age, and overweight, evaluated by computed tomography. Am J Clin Nutr 44:739–746PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Wang Q, Hassager C, Ravn P et al (1994) Total and regional body-composition changes in early post-menopausal women: age-related or menopause-related? Am J Clin Nutr 60:843–848PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Zamboni M, Armellini F, Harris T et al (1997) Effects of age on body fat distribution and cardiovascular risk factors in women. Am J Clin Nutr 66:111–115PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Horber FF, Gruber B, Thomi F et al (1997) Effect of sex and age on bone mass, body composition and fuel metabolism in humans. Nutrition. 13:524–534PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Beaufrère B, Morio B (2000) Fat and protein redistribution with ageing: metabolic considerations. Eur J Clin Nutr 54:S48–S53PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ma XH, Muzumdar R, Yang XM et al(2002) Aging is associated with resistance to effects of leptin on fat distribution and insulin action. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 57:B225–B231PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Ferrannini E, Vichi S, Beck-Nielsen H et al (1996) European group for the study of insulin resistance (EGIR). Insulin action and age. Diabetes 45:947–953PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Boden G(1997) Role of fatty acids in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and NIDDM. Diabetes 46:3–10Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Girard J (1995) Role of free fatty acids in insulin resistance of subjects with non-insulin-dependent diabetes. Diabetes Metab 21:79–88Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Laville M, Rigalleau V, Riou J, Beylot M (1995) Respective role of plasma nonesterified fatty acid oxidation and total lipid oxidation in lipid-induced insulin resistance. Metabolism 44:639–644PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Bjorntop P (1997) Body fat distribution, insulin resistance, and metabolic diseases. Nutrition 13:795–803CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Hunter GR, Kekes-Szabo T, Treuth MS et al (1996) Intra-abdominal adipose tissue, physical activity and cardio-vascular risk in preand post-menopausal women. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 20:860–865PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Yamanouchi K, Nakajima H (1992) Effects of daily physical activity on insulin action in the elderly. J Appl Physiol 73:2241–2245PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Cohn SH, Vaswani AN, Yasumura S et al (1985) Assessment of cellular mass and lean body mass by noninvasive nuclear techniques. J Lab Clin Med 105:305–311PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Kyle UG, Genton L, Hans D et al (2001) Total body mass, fat mass, fat-free mass, and skeletal muscle in older people: cross-sectional differences in 60-year-old persons. J Am Geriatr Soc 49:1633–1640PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Frontera WR, Hughes VA, Fielding RA et al (2000) Aging of skeletal muscle: a 12 year longitudinal study. J Appl Physiol 88:1321–1326PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Gallagher D, Ruts E, Visser M et al(2000) Weight stability masks sarcopenia in elderly men and women. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 279:E366–E375PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Kehayas JJ, Fiatarone MA, Zhuang H et al (1997) Total body potassium and body fat: relevance to aging. Am J Clin Nutr 66:904–910Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Baumgartner RN, Koehler KM, Gallagher D et al (1998) Epidemiology of sarcopenia among the elderly in New Mexico. Am J Epidemiol 147:755–763PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Frontera WR, Hughes VA, Lutz KJ et al (1991) A cross-sectional study of muscle strength and mass in 45to 78-yr-old men and women. J Appl Physiol 71:644–650PubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Hughes VA, Frontera WR, Wood M et al (2001) Longitudinal muscle strength changes in older adults: influence of muscle mass, physical activity, and health. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 56:B209–B217PubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Rosenberg IH (1989) Summary comments. Am J Clin Nutr 50:1231–1233Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Rubenoff R, Heymsfield SB, Kehayias JJ et al (1997) Standardization of nomenclature of body composition in weight loss. Am J Clin Nutr 66:192–196Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Melton LJ 3rd, Khosla S, Riggs BL (2000) Epidemiology of sarcopenia. Mayo Clin Proc 75:S10–S12PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Tanko LB, Movsesyan L, Mouritzen U et al (2000) Appendicular lean tissue mass and the prevalence of sarcopenia among healthy women. Metabolism 5:69–74Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Newman AB, Kupelian V, Visser M et al (2003) Health ABC Study Investigators Sarcopenia: alternative definitions and associations with lower extremity function. J Am Geriatr Soc 51:1602–1609PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    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 Geriatr Soc 50:889–896PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Janssen I, Heymsfield SB, Baumgartner RN, Ross R (2000) Estimation of skeletal muscle mass by bioelectrical impedance analysis. J Appl Physiol 89:465–471PubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Bua EA, McKiernan SH, Wanagat J et al (2002) Mitochondrial abnormalities are more frequent in muscles undergoing sarcopenia. J Appl Physiol 92:2617–2624PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Payette H, Roubenoff R, Jacques PF et al (2003) Insulin-like growth factor-1 and interleukin 6 predict sarcopenia in very old community-living men and women: the Framingham Heart Study. J Am Geriatr Soc 51:1237–1243PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Reid MB, Li YP (2001) Tumor necrosis factor-alpha and muscle wasting: a cellular perspective. Respir Res 2:269–272PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Hakkinen K, Kallinem M, Linnamo V et al (1996) Neuromuscular adaptations during bilateral versus unilateral strength training in middle-aged and elderly men and women. Acta Physiol Scand 158:77–88PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Suzuki Y, Murakami T, Haruna Y et al (1994) Effects of 10 and 20 days bed rest on leg muscle mass and strength in young subjects. Acta Physiol Scand Suppl 616:5–18PubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Nelson ME, Layne JE, Neurenberger A et al (1999) The effect of a home-based exercise program on functional performance in the frail elderly: an update. Med Sci Sports Exerc 31:S377 (abs)Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Roubenoff R, Hughes VA (2000) Sarcopenia: current concepts. J Gerontol Med Sci 55:M716–M724Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alessandra Coin
    • 1
  • Giuseppe Sergi
    • 1
  • Emine M. Inelmen
    • 1
  • Giuliano Enzi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, Geriatrics DivisionUniversity of PaduaPaduaItaly

Personalised recommendations