BACKGROUND: People with Down syndrome (DS) experience premature aging. Whether this accelerated aging also involves early declines in muscle mass, strength and physical performance is presently unclear. The present study investigated the prevalence of sarcopenia parameters in adults with DS. In addition, the relationship between well-established muscle mass indexes and a set of body composition, functional, biological, and clinical parameters was explored.
METHODS: One hundred-five adults with DS participated in the study. Demographic, clinical, anthropometric, and functional parameters were assessed. Lean body mass (LBM) was estimated using bioelectrical impedance analysis. Bone mineral density (BMD) of the hip and the spine was measured through dual X-ray absorptiometry. For the analysis, participants were categorized into two subgroups (i.e., low and high) for each LBM-related measurement (i.e., crude LBM, LBM to body mass index ratio, and skeletal muscle index) according to their median values.
RESULTS: The mean age of participants was 38.4 ± 12.1 years, with 43 men (41%). Muscle mass, handgrip strength, and gait speed were lower than established cutoffs for sarcopenia. All muscle mass indexes were negatively correlated with age. However, only crude LBM and the skeletal muscle index were correlated with a set of anthropometric parameters and BMD.
CONCLUSION: Findings from this exploratory study indicate that adults with DS show muscle mass indexes and physical performance levels similar to or lower than older adults with sarcopenia. The assessment of muscle mass and functional status should therefore be included in the routine evaluation of this population starting at young age.