Lean mass, muscle strength and gene expression in community dwelling older men: findings from the Hertfordshire Sarcopenia Study (HSS).
Patel HP., Al-Shanti N., Davies LC., Barton SJ., Grounds MD., Tellam RL., Stewart CE., Cooper C., Sayer AA.
Sarcopenia is associated with adverse health outcomes. This study investigated whether skeletal muscle gene expression was associated with lean mass and grip strength in community-dwelling older men. Utilising a cross-sectional study design, lean muscle mass and grip strength were measured in 88 men aged 68-76 years. Expression profiles of 44 genes implicated in the cellular regulation of skeletal muscle were determined. Serum was analysed for circulating cytokines TNF (tumour necrosis factor), IL-6 (interleukin 6, IFNG (interferon gamma), IL1R1 (interleukin-1 receptor-1). Relationships between skeletal muscle gene expression, circulating cytokines, lean mass and grip strength were examined. Participant groups with higher and lower values of lean muscle mass (n = 18) and strength (n = 20) were used in the analysis of gene expression fold change. Expression of VDR (vitamin D receptor) [fold change (FC) 0.52, standard error for fold change (SE) ± 0.08, p = 0.01] and IFNG mRNA (FC 0.31; SE ± 0.19, p = 0.01) were lower in those with higher lean mass. Expression of IL-6 (FC 0.43; SE ± 0.13, p = 0.02), TNF (FC 0.52; SE ± 0.10, p = 0.02), IL1R1 (FC 0.63; SE ± 0.09, p = 0.04) and MSTN (myostatin) (FC 0.64; SE ± 0.11, p = 0.04) were lower in those with higher grip strength. No other significant changes were observed. Significant negative correlations between serum IL-6 (R = -0.29, p = 0.005), TNF (R = -0.24, p = 0.017) and grip strength were demonstrated. This novel skeletal muscle gene expression study carried out within a well-characterized epidemiological birth cohort has demonstrated that lower expression of VDR and IFNG is associated with higher lean mass, and lower expression of IL-6, TNF, IL1R1 and myostatin is associated with higher grip strength. These findings are consistent with a role of proinflammatory factors in mediating lower muscle strength in community-dwelling older men.