Interaction between bone and muscle in older persons with mobility limitations

L. Ferrucci, M. Baroni, A. Ranchelli, F. Lauretani, M. Maggio, P. Mecocci, C. Ruggiero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Aging is associated with a progressive loss of bone-muscle mass and strength. When the decline in mass and strength reaches critical thresholds associated with adverse health outcomes, they are operationally considered geriatric conditions and named, respectively, osteoporosis and sarcopenia. Osteoporosis and sarcopenia share many of the same risk factors and both directly or indirectly cause higher risk of mobility limitations, falls, fractures and disability in activities of daily living. This is not surprising since bones adapt their morphology and strength to the long-term loads exerted by muscle during anti-gravitational and physical activities. Non-mechanical systemic and local factors also modulate the mechanostat effect of muscle on bone by affecting the bidirectional osteocyte-muscle crosstalk, but the specific pathways that regulate these homeostatic mechanisms are not fully understood. More research is required to reach a consensus on cut points in bone and muscle parameters that identify individuals at high risk for adverse health outcomes, including falls, fractures and disability. A better understanding of the muscle-bone physiological interaction may help to develop preventive strategies that reduce the burden of musculoskeletal diseases, the consequent disability in older persons and to limit the financial burden associated with such conditions. In this review, we summarize age-related bone-muscle changes focusing on the biomechanical and homeostatic mechanisms that explain bone-muscle interaction and we speculate about possible pathological events that occur when these mechanisms become impaired. We also report some recent definitions of osteoporosis and sarcopenia that have emerged in the literature and their implications in clinical practice. Finally, we outline the current evidence for the efficacy of available anti-osteoporotic and proposed antisarcopenic interventions in older persons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3178-3197
Number of pages20
JournalCurrent Pharmaceutical Design
Issue number19
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Bone-muscle
  • Disability
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sarcopenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology
  • Medicine(all)


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