Sarcopenia is associated with decreased gray matter volume in the parietal lobe: a longitudinal cohort study

Ji Hee Yu, Regina E.Y. Kim, Jin Man Jung, So Young Park, Da Young Lee, Hyun Joo Cho, Nam Hoon Kim, Hye Jin Yoo, Ji A. Seo, Sin Gon Kim, Kyung Mook Choi, Sei Hyun Baik, Chol Shin, Nan Hee Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Substantial evidence supports an association between physical activity and cognitive function. However, the role of muscle mass and function in brain structural changes is not well known. This study investigated whether sarcopenia, defined as low muscle mass and strength, accelerates brain volume atrophy. Methods: A total of 1284 participants with sarcopenic measurements and baseline and 4-year follow-up brain magnetic resonance images were recruited from the Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study. Muscle mass was represented as appendicular skeletal muscle mass divided by the body mass index. Muscle function was measured by handgrip strength. The low mass and strength groups were defined as being in the lowest quintile of each variable for one’s sex. Sarcopenia was defined as being in the lowest quintile for both muscle mass and handgrip strength. Results: Of the 1284 participants, 12·6%, 10·8%, and 5·4% were classified as the low mass, low strength, and sarcopenia groups, respectively. The adjusted mean changes of gray matter (GM) volume during 4-year follow-up period were − 9·6 mL in the control group, whereas − 11·6 mL in the other three groups (P < 0·001). The significantly greater atrophy in parietal GM was observed in the sarcopenia group compared with the control group. In a joint regression model, low muscle mass, but not muscle strength, was an independent factor associated with a decrease of GM volume. Conclusions: Sarcopenia is associated with parietal GM volume atrophy, in a middle-aged population. Maintaining good levels of muscle mass could be important for brain health in later adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Article number622
JournalBMC geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Brain atrophy
  • Gray matter
  • Muscle strength
  • Sarcopenia
  • Skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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