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Pectoralis muscle area is associated with bone mineral density and lung function in lung transplant candidates

Parulekar AD1Wang T2Li GW1Hoang V1Kao CC3.

Osteoporos Int. 2020 Mar 13. doi: 10.1007/s00198-020-05373-5. [Epub ahead of print]



Loss of bone mineral density and skeletal muscle area are linked in lung transplant patients. This loss is greater in patients with restrictive compared with obstructive lung diseases.


Sarcopenia and osteoporosis are associated with aging and chronic illnesses and may be linked in patients with advanced lung disease. Pectoralis muscle index (PMI) quantitated on computed tomography (CT) of the chest can be used to measure skeletal muscle mass. This study aimed to determine the relationship of PMI to clinical parameters including bone mineral density (BMD) in candidates for lung transplantation.


A retrospective review of transplant candidates at a single center was performed. Demographic, anthropomorphic, and clinical data were recorded. Pectoralis muscle area (PMA) was determined on an axial slice from a chest CT. PMI was calculated as the PMA divided by height squared. BMD was obtained from routine dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan.


In 226 included patients, mean PMI was 8.2 ± 3.0 cm2/m2 in males and 6.1 ± 2.1 cm2/m2 in females. Osteopenia was present in 44.4%, and 23.2% of patients had osteoporosis. Patients with obstructive lung disease had lower body mass index (22.0 ± 4.9 versus 27.9 ± 4.9 kg/m2, p < 0.001), PMI (6.0 ± 2.3 versus 8.2 ± 2.8 cm2/m2, p < 0.001), and BMD (- 2.3 ± 1.1 versus - 1.3 ± 1.1, p < 0.001) compared with patients with restrictive lung disease. PMI was a significant predictor of BMD (β = 0.16, p < 0.001).


The association between muscle area and BMD in lung transplant candidates suggests that similar mechanisms may underlie the development of both. Differences in PMI and BMD in patients with obstructive versus restrictive lung disease may result from differences in respiratory physiology or disease processes.