Researchers looking into prognostic markers for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) found that sarcopenia is a risk factor for all-cause mortality in patients with IPF.

Their study was published in Respiratory Medicine and Research.

IPF is a chronic, progressive interstitial lung disease of unknown etiology. Prognosis is poor; patients tend to survive up to 5 years upon receiving a diagnosis. 

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Sarcopenia, on the other hand, is characterized by the loss of skeletal muscle mass and function and is associated with a poorer quality of life. Because chest muscles are needed for respiration, some scientists have proposed a link between sarcopenia and deteriorating respiratory function. Nevertheless, there is no consensus on the impact of sarcopenia on the long-term prognosis of patients with IPF. 

Read more about IPF etiology 

The authors studied the impact of sarcopenia on the long-term prognosis of patients with IPF. They characterized sarcopenia using computed tomography (CT) scans at the carina level. In addition, they also examined how sarcopenia affects the long-term prognosis of patients without diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide ( DLCO) measurements. 

This single-center study was retrospectively conducted with a selected cohort of patients diagnosed with IPF at the Kobe City Medical Center West Hospital in Japan. An IPF diagnosis must follow guidelines dictated by the American Thoracic Society/European Respiratory Society. One hundred seventeen participants were included in the final analysis. The primary endpoint was all-cause mortality during the 5 years following diagnosis. Sarcopenia was assessed at the carina-level via chest CT scans 3 months before and after the time of diagnosis. 

“In this study, carina-level chest CT-defined sarcopenia was identified as an independent risk factor for all-cause mortality in patients with IPF,” the authors concluded. “Even in cases without DLCO measurement, sarcopenia was a prognostic factor for patients with IPF, independent of sex, age, and functional vital capacity percentage.” 

Their study suggests that treating sarcopenia can improve clinical outcomes in patients with IPF. 


Fujikawa T, Kondo S, Saito T, et al. Impact of sarcopenia defined by carina-level skeletal muscle mass on the long-term prognosis of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosisRespir Med Res. 2022;82:100965. doi:10.1016/j.resmer.2022.100965