• sarcopenia;
  • predictors;
  • growth hormone;
  • cytokine;
  • population-based

Objectives: To assess the prognostic role of the inflammatory cytokine, interleukin 6 (IL-6), and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in predicting 2-year changes in fat-free mass (FFM) while controlling for potential confounders.

Design: Population-based cohort, the Framingham Heart Study, examined in 1992–93 and 1994–95.

Setting: General community.

Participants: Two hundred thirty-two men and 326 women aged 72 to 92.

Measurements: IGF-1 was measured using radio-immunoassay and cellular IL-6 production using non-cross-reacting radioimmunoassays. FFM was estimated using population-specific equations for predicting FFM from bioelectrical impedance analysis developed separately for men and women.

Results: Higher IGF-1 predicted smaller loss of FFM in men than lower IGF-1 did (P=.002), after adjusting for age, baseline FFM, fat mass, and 2-year weight changes, whereas cellular IL-6 was a significant predictor of sarcopenia in women (P=.02). Weight change was a strong determinant of change in FFM in both sexes (P<.0001).

Conclusion: Predictors of sarcopenia include body composition characteristics that are common to men and women and sex-specific metabolic predictors. Sarcopenia appears to reflect a withdrawal of anabolic stimuli, such as growth hormone, in men but an increase in catabolic stimuli, such as cellular IL-6, in women.