Association of plasma FGF21 levels with muscle mass and muscle strength in a national multicentre cohort study: Korean Frailty and Aging Cohort Study

Eun Roh, Soon Young Hwang, Hye Jin Yoo, Sei Hyun Baik, Belong Cho, Yong Soon Park, Hyeon Ju Kim, Sam Gyu Lee, Bong Jo Kim, Hak Chul Jang, Miji Kim, Chang Won Won, Kyung Mook Choi

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: despite of the beneficial effects of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) 21 in several metabolic diseases, the association of plasma FGF21 with muscle mass and muscle strength is still unclear. Methods: a total of 386 community-dwelling older adults aged 70-84 years were analysed. Appendicular skeletal muscle mass was measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and normalised to the square of height (ASM/ht2). Muscle strength was assessed using the hand grip strength (HGS) test. The definitions of low muscle mass (LMM) and low muscle strength (LMS) were based on the Asian Working Group for Sarcopenia. Results: plasma FGF21 was significantly lower in participants with LMM than in those with normal muscle mass (289.7 [192.4-448.3] vs. 345.6 [238.6-503.2] pg/ml, P = 0.008). In contrast, the LMS group had a significantly higher plasma FGF21 level than the normal muscle strength group (369.7 [244.4-591.1] vs. 309.7 [205.3-444.8] pg/ml, P = 0.006). In the partial correlation analysis, following adjustment for age, sex and body mass index, FGF21 levels had no significant association with ASM/ht2, but were negatively associated with HGS (r = -0.112, P = 0.029). Furthermore, after multivariate adjustment for confounding variables, the odds ratio for the risk of LMS was 2.32 (95% confidence interval 1.20-4.46) when comparing the highest with the lowest FGF21 quartile. Conclusions: circulating FGF21 levels are negatively associated with muscle strength but are not independently correlated with muscle mass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1971-1978
Number of pages8
JournalAge and Ageing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Tis study was supported by a grant from the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korean Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (grant number: HI15C3153), a grant from the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education of Korea (grant numbers: 2018R1D1A1B07050991 and 2020R1I1A1A01070499) and grants from the Korea University Research Fund (grant numbers: B1901301, K1809301, K2020461, K2115701 and A920197507).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society. All rights reserved.


  • Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) 21
  • Muscle mass
  • Muscle strength
  • Older adults
  • Sarcopenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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