Premature loss of muscle mass and function in type 2 diabetes


      • Loss of muscle mass and function is not considered as a complication of DM2.
      • Sarcopenia could derive from micro and macrovascular changes associated with this disease, chronic inflammation and muscle lipid infiltration.
      • We found deterioration of muscle mass and function among adult DM2 patients of up to 60 years old, independent of length of disease, metabolic control, and presence of microvascular complications and pain.



      Muscle mass and function are among the most relevant factors that contribute to an optimal quality of life, and are strong predictors of mortality in the elderly. Loss of lean tissues and deterioration of muscle function have been described as one of the many complications of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2), but most studies do not isolate age as an intervening factor.


      To study whether adult DM2 patients up to 60 years of age have decreased muscle mass and function compared with healthy non-diabetic (ND) subjects of similar age.


      Appendicular fat-free mass (ApFFM) by dual X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), handgrip strength (HS), quadriceps strength (QS), 12 min walking capacity (12MW) and the Timed Up and Go test (TUG) were measured in 100 DM2 patients and 39 ND controls. Muscle quality, or the ratio between lean mass and muscle strength of upper and lower limbs, and the functional limitations associated with pain and stiffness assessed according to the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthrosis Index (WOMAC) were also recorded. Specific tests were performed to rule out microvascular diabetic complications (retinal and peripheral nerves), metabolic control, kidney function and vitamin D status and examine their association with ApFFM and function.


      ApFFM was significantly higher among DM2 female patients and lower among diabetic men. However opposite results were obtained when individual values were corrected for body mass index (BMI), specifically among women, who were more likely to be obese. As for muscle strength and global functionality tests, significantly better performances in TUG, 12MW, QS and HS were observed among ND subjects of both sexes. These differences prevailed even after excluding diabetic patients with microvascular complications as well as those with more than 10 years of diabetes. Muscle quality was also significantly better among ND women. Higher scores of pain and stiffness in the WOMAC scale correlated with 12MW and TUG in both groups but did not correlate with ApFFM.


      We found a clear deterioration of lean mass and muscle functions among adult DM2 patients of up to 60 years old, independent of length of disease, metabolic control, vitamin D status and presence of microvascular complications and pain.


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