What is sarcopenia?

Sarcopenia is the progressive loss of muscle mass and function, associated with age, which can lead to muscle weakness and decreased functional capacity. In rheumatology, sarcopenia is often addressed as part of aging and is also related to osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, as muscle mass, bone and cartilage density and quality are closely related.

Physical exercise is one of the most effective strategies to prevent and treat sarcopenia. Strength training and aerobic exercise can improve muscle mass and strength, as well as bone density. In addition, exercise can improve quality of life and reduce pain in patients with osteoarthritis.

Adequate intake of protein and other nutrients, such as vitamin D and calcium, is essential for muscle and bone health. Protein supplements and vitamin D and calcium supplementation can improve muscle mass and bone density in patients with osteoporosis.

Several treatments for sarcopenia are currently under investigation:

  • Hormone therapy: Several hormones, such as testosterone, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF-21), are being investigated to increase muscle mass and strength.
  • Myostatin inhibitors: Myostatin is a protein that limits muscle growth. Myostatin inhibitors, such as bimagrumab and SRK-015, are being studied to increase muscle mass in patients with sarcopenia.
  • Pharmacological treatments: Several drugs, such as spironolactone, enalapril and beta-2 agonists, are being evaluated to improve muscle strength in patients with sarcopenia.
  • Nutritional supplements: Nutritional supplements such as creatine, branched amino acids and vitamin D are being investigated to improve muscle mass and strength in patients with sarcopenia.