The subject of muscle and bone health is vital, especially for the elderly. Weakened muscle can lead to bone-breaking accidents that result in loss of independence and even death. In the context of health care costs, the adverse health effects of frailty reach up to $18.5 billion annually.

New research looked at skeletal muscle mass and bone health across the life span and discovered distinct differences in how muscle affects the two layers of bone in men and women, according to a Mayo Clinic press release.

“Our study adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the highly integrated nature of skeletal muscle and bone, and it also provides new insights into potential biomarkers that reflect the health of the musculoskeletal system,” says lead author Nathan LeBrasseur, Ph.D., of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging at Mayo Clinic.

Researchers reviewed records from a long-standing Mayo Clinic study of bone health involving 272 women and 317 men ages 20 to 97, according to the press release. They examined the association of skeletal muscle mass (relative to participants’ height) with bone architecture and strength, using several high-resolution imaging technologies that distinguish the outer cortical layer of bone from the inner trabecular layer.

The study found that muscle mass is associated with bone strength at particular places in the body, according to the press release. In women, muscle mass was strongly connected to cortical health at load-bearing locations such as the hip, lumbar spine and tibia.

Researchers also found that muscle mass was associated with the microarchitecture of trabecular bone in women’s forearms, a non-load-bearing site, at higher risk of fracture following menopause, according to the press release. The higher the level of the circulating protein, IGFBP-2, the lower relative muscle mass overall, they discovered.

The findings are published in the Journal of Bone & Mineral Research.

Related articles:

Strong Muscles = Better Health for Older Adults

When it Comes to Self-Repair, Knees Beat Hips

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