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Rheumatoid sarcopenia: loss of skeletal muscle strength and mass in rheumatoid arthritis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Josh Bennett, Dr Arthur Pratt, Dr Richard DoddsORCiD, Professor Avan SayerORCiD, Professor John IsaacsORCiD


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© 2023, Springer Nature Limited. Sarcopenia, a disorder that involves the generalized loss of skeletal muscle strength and mass, was formally recognized as a disease by its inclusion in the International Classification of Diseases in 2016. Sarcopenia typically affects older people, but younger individuals with chronic disease are also at risk. The risk of sarcopenia is high (with a prevalence of ≥25%) in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and this rheumatoid sarcopenia is associated with increased likelihood of falls, fractures and physical disability, in addition to the burden of joint inflammation and damage. Chronic inflammation mediated by cytokines such as TNF, IL-6 and IFNγ contributes to aberrant muscle homeostasis (for instance, by exacerbating muscle protein breakdown), and results from transcriptomic studies have identified dysfunction of muscle stem cells and metabolism in RA. Progressive resistance exercise is an effective therapy for rheumatoid sarcopenia but it can be challenging or unsuitable for some individuals. The unmet need for anti-sarcopenia pharmacotherapies is great, both for people with RA and for otherwise healthy older adults.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bennett JL, Pratt AG, Dodds R, Sayer AA, Isaacs JD

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature Reviews Rheumatology

Year: 2023

Volume: 19

Pages: 239-251

Online publication date: 17/02/2023

Acceptance date: 27/01/2023

ISSN (print): 1759-4790

ISSN (electronic): 1759-4804

Publisher: Nature Research


DOI: 10.1038/s41584-023-00921-9