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Ann Oncol. 2011 Aug;22(8):1763-9. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdq699. Epub 2011 Jan 27.

Aromatase inhibitor-induced loss of grip strength is body mass index dependent: hypothesis-generating findings for its pathogenesis.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Division of Gynecological Oncology, University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium.



Our preliminary results showed that tenosynovial changes and decrease in grip strength are associated with the aromatase inhibitor-induced musculoskeletal syndrome (AIMSS). Here, we report the final results and assess the relationship between grip strength and body mass index (BMI).


We conducted a prospective study including postmenopausal early breast cancer patients receiving either an aromatase inhibitor (AI) or tamoxifen. Primary end point was change from baseline in tenosynovial abnormalities. Secondary end points were changes from baseline in morning stiffness, intra-articular fluid and grip strength and its association with BMI.


After 6 months of therapy, 74% [95% confidence interval (CI) 51% to 89%] of AI-treated patients had worsened tenosynovial abnormalities, 56% (95% CI 34% to 75%) had increased intra-articular fluid, and 22% (95% CI 9% to 45%) had increased morning stiffness. Grip strength decreased 8% for the left hand (95% CI 2% to 21%) and 11% for the right (95% CI 4% to 17%). Regression analysis suggested that grip strength decreased more for subjects with high or with low BMI.


AIMSS is characterized by tenosynovial changes, intra-articular fluid and morning stiffness. We hypothesize that the quadratic association between BMI and loss of grip strength reflects AI-induced changes on the endocrine control of the growth hormone insulin-like growth factor-I pathway.

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