Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

PURPOSE: The age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength is associated with adverse health outcomes. However, to date, peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT)-derived muscle density has been little studied. We used a well characterised cohort of older adults to identify lifestyle and anthropometric determinants of pQCT-derived muscle density measured 11 years later, and to report relationships between pQCT-derived muscle density with history of falls and prevalent fractures. METHODS: A lifestyle questionnaire was administered to 197 men and 178 women, aged 59-70 at baseline. After a median of 11.5 (IQR 10.9, 12.3) years, pQCT (Stratec XCT2000) of the radius and tibia was performed to measure forearm muscle density (FMD) and calf muscle density (CMD). Presence of falls and fractures since the age of 45 were determined through participant recall; vertebral fractures were also ascertained through vertebral fracture assessment using iDXA. Total hip BMD (TH aBMD) was assessed using DXA. Baseline characteristics in relation to muscle density at follow-up were examined using linear regression; associations between muscle density and prior falls and fractures were investigated using logistic regression. All analyses were adjusted for sex and age. RESULTS: Mean (SD) age at muscle density measurement was 76.3 (2.6) years. Mean (SD) FMD was 79.9 (3.1) and 77.2 (3.2) among males and females, respectively; CMD was 80.7 (2.6) and 78.5 (2.6) among males and females, respectively. Significant sex-differences in muscle density were observed at each site (p  0.08). No significant relationships were seen between muscle density and falls. CONCLUSION: Female sex, older age, and lower BMI were associated with subsequent lower muscle density in older community-dwelling adults. Lower FMD was related to increased risk of previous fracture. Changes in muscle density over time might precede adverse outcomes such as falls and fractures and may be a long-term predictor of frailty. It could be also suggested that muscle density could be a more clinically meaningful surrogate of functional decline and disability than muscle size or mass, but more studies are needed to support this notion.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





Determinants, Fall, Fracture, Muscle density, Peripheral quantitative computed tomography