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Clin Physiol Funct Imaging. 2012 Mar;32(2):89-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-097X.2011.01057.x. Epub 2011 Sep 29.

Component characteristics of thigh muscle volume in young and older healthy men.

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  • 1Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.


The purpose of this study was to compare the component characteristics of thigh muscle volume in Japanese young and older men. The subjects in both young (YM, n = 15) and older (OM, n = 13) men were physically active (performed aerobic-type exercise 1-3 times per week), but none of the subjects had regularly participated in resistance training for a minimum of 3 years prior to the study. Contiguous transverse magnetic resonance imaging (1.5-T scanner) images were obtained from the thigh, and total and individual (quadriceps, hamstrings and adductors) muscle volumes were calculated by multiplying the muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) by slice thickness and the total number of slices. Muscle length and average muscle CSA (muscle volume divided by muscle length) were determined for each muscle. Maximum voluntary isometric (MVC) knee extension and flexion strength were measured, and muscle quality was defined as MVC per unit average muscle CSA (MVC/CSA). Quadriceps muscle volume and average CSA were, respectively, 20% and 16% lower (P < 0.05) in the OM than in the YM, while hamstrings and adductors muscle volumes and average CSA were similar in both groups. Knee extension and flexion MVC were lower (P < 0.05) in the OM than in the YM. Knee extensor MVC/CSA was similar in the two groups, while knee flexor MVC/CSA was lower (P < 0.05) in the OM than in the YM. Our results suggest that age-related thigh muscle volume loss is muscle specific, in that greater quadriceps muscle loss was found in the older group.

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