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Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken), 2021; 73(3): 355-363, PMID: 31841259

Association of Low Muscle Density With Deteriorations in Muscle Strength and Physical Functioning in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Year: 2021

Baker JF, Mostoufi-Moab S, Long J, Taratuta E, Leonard MB, Zemel B
Philadelphia VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


PURPOSE: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with low muscle density due to accumulation of intramuscular fat. This study identified predictors of changes in muscle density and determined whether low muscle density predicted changes in strength and physical function. METHODS: Patients with RA, ages 18-70, completed whole-body DXA and peripheral quantitative CT (pQCT) to quantify lean and fat mass indices and muscle density. Dynamometry was used to measure strength at the hand, knee, and lower leg. Disability and physical function were measured with the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) and the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB). Assessments were performed at baseline and at follow-up. Regression analyses assessed associations between patient characteristics, muscle density, and deteriorations in strength and function. RESULTS: Muscle density was assessed at baseline in 107 patients with RA. Seventy-nine (74%) returned for a follow-up assessment at a median follow-up time of 2.71 years (IQR: 2.35-3.57). Factors associated with declines in muscle density included female sex, higher disease activity, smoking, and lower IGF-1 levels. Greater muscle density Z-Score at baseline (per 1 SD) was associated with less worsening per year of HAQ, SPPB, and 4-meter walk time and a lower risk of a clinically important worsening in HAQ [OR 1.90 (1.06,3.42) p=0.03] and walking speed [OR 2.87 (1.05,7.89) p=0.04]. CONCLUSION: Worsening of skeletal muscle density occurred in patients with higher disease activity, smokers, and those with lower IGF-1. Low muscle density was associated with worsening of physical function. Interventions addressing reductions in muscle quality might prevent functional decline.

GID: 5021; Last update: 14.01.2020