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Sarcopenia and osteoporosis are associated with poor health outcomes in older people. Relationships between muscle and bone have typically been reported at a functional or macroscopic level. The aims of this study were to describe the relationships between muscle morphology and bone health among participants of the Hertfordshire Sarcopenia Study (HSS). 105 older men, mean age 72.5 (SD 2.5) years, were recruited into the HSS. Whole body lean mass as well as appendicular lean mass, lumbar spine and femoral neck bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD) were obtained through dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scanning. Percutaneous biopsy of the vastus lateralis was performed successfully in 99 participants. Image analysis was used to determine the muscle morphology variables of slow-twitch (type I) and fast-twitch (type II) myofibre area, myofibre density, capillary and satellite cell (SC) density. There were strong relationships between whole and appendicular lean body mass in relation to femoral neck BMC and BMD (r ≥ 0.43, p < 0.001). Type II fibre area was associated with both femoral neck BMC (r = 0.27, p = 0.01) and BMD (r = 0.26, p = 0.01) with relationships robust to adjustment for age and height. In unadjusted analysis, SC density was associated with whole body area (r = 0.30, p = 0.011) and both BMC (r = 0.26, p = 0.031) and area (r = 0.29, p = 0.017) of the femoral neck. We have demonstrated associations between BMC and changes in muscle at a cellular level predominantly involving type II myofibres. Interventions targeted at improving muscle mass, function and quality may improve overall musculoskeletal health. Larger studies that include women are needed to explore these relationships further.

Original publication




Journal article


Calcif tissue int

Publication Date





35 - 43


Bone–muscle relationship, Lean mass, Muscle morphology, Osteoporosis