Sarcopenia is a type of muscle loss (muscle atrophy) that occurs with aging and/or immobility. It is characterized by the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass, quality, and strength. The rate of muscle loss is dependent on exercise level, co-morbidities, nutrition and other factors. The muscle loss is related to changes in muscle synthesis signalling pathways. It is distinct from cachexia, in which muscle is degraded through cytokine-mediated degradation, although both conditions may co-exist. Sarcopenia is considered a component of frailty syndrome. Sarcopenia can lead to reduced quality of life, falls, fracture, and disability.
Sarcopenia is a factor in changing body composition associated with aging populations; and certain muscle regions are expected to be affected first, specifically the anterior thigh and abdominal muscles. In population studies, body mass index (BMI) is seen to decrease in aging populations while bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) shows body fat proportion rising.
The term sarcopenia is from Greek σάρξ sarx, "flesh" and πενία penia, "poverty". This was first proposed by Rosenberg in 1989, who wrote that "there may be no single feature of age-related decline that could more dramatically affect ambulation, mobility, calorie intake, and overall nutrient intake and status, independence, breathing, etc. Why have we not given it more attention? Perhaps it needs a name derived from the Greek. I'll suggest a couple: sarcomalacia or sarcopenia".