Intramuscular Fat Infiltration Contributes to Impaired Muscle Function in COPD


Muscle weakness is a prevalent complication in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Atrophy does not fully explain muscle weakness in this population. The recent focus on fat infiltration and its clinical implications in age and diseased muscles are important because it may further explain the extent of declining muscle strength and mobility seen in COPD.

Purpose: The objectives of this study are to quantify fat infiltration (muscle quality) of lower-limb muscles in people with COPD and healthy older adults using magnetic resonance imaging and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and to explore its relationship with muscle strength and walking capacity in COPD.

Methods: T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy were performed in people with COPD (n = 10) and control subjects (n = 10) matched for age, gender, and body mass index. Maximal cross-sectional area (muscle size), isokinetic and isometric muscle peak torques, and 6-min walk distance were also assessed.

Results: In addition to muscle atrophy (mean between-group differences of 20% to 25%, P < 0.05), COPD group presented with fatty infiltration in thigh and calf muscles that were significantly greater than what was observed in their healthy counterparts (mean between-group differences of 74% to 89%, P = 0.001). There was a strong inverse correlation between intramuscular fat infiltration, muscle peak torque, and walking distance (r = −0.6 to −0.8, P < 0.001) in this group as opposed to fair-to-moderate correlations between muscle size and the same outcomes (r = 0.4–0.6, P < 0.01).

Conclusion: Poor muscle quality accompanies atrophy in people with COPD. Intramuscular fat infiltration not only appears to have a strong correlation with impaired function but also is more profound than muscle atrophy in this group. Monitoring both muscle size and quality may enable a more comprehensive assessment of exercise programs in COPD.

Autor / Fonte:ROBLES, PRISCILA GAMES; SUSSMAN, MARSHALL S.; NARAGHI, ALI; More Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: July 2015 - Volume 47 - Issue 7 - p 1334–1341 doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000556