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1.  Further evidence of the developmental origins of osteoarthritis: results from the Hertfordshire Cohort Study 
Investigators have suggested a link between birth weight and both hand and lumbar spine osteoarthritis (OA). In this study, we sought to extend these observations by investigating relationships between growth in early life, and clinical and radiological diagnoses of OA at the hand, knee and hip, among participants from the Hertfordshire Cohort Study (HCS).
Data were available for 222 men and 222 women. Clinical OA was defined based on American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria. Radiographs were taken of the knees and hips, and graded for the presence of osteophytes and overall Kellgren and Lawrence (KL) score.
Lower weight at year one was associated with higher rates of clinical hand OA (OR 1.396, 95% CI 1.05, 1.85, p=0.021). Individuals with lower birth weights were more likely to have hip osteophytes, (OR 1.512, 95% CI 1.14, 2.00, p=0.004) and this remained robust after adjustment for confounders. Furthermore, a low weight at one year was also associated with a higher osteophyte number in the lateral compartment of the knee, after adjustment for confounders (OR 1.388, 95% CI 1.01, 1.91 p=0.043).
We have found further evidence of a relationship between early life factors and adult OA. These findings accord with previous studies.
doi:10.1017/S2040174414000373
PMCID: PMC4521289  PMID: 25154411
Osteoarthritis; Bone; Programming; Birth weight
2.  Prevention and optimal management of sarcopenia: a review of combined exercise and nutrition interventions to improve muscle outcomes in older people 
The growing recognition of sarcopenia, the age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and function, has highlighted the need to understand more about its etiology. Declines in muscle mass and strength are expected aspects of aging, but there is significant variability between individuals in rates of loss. Although some of these differences can be explained by fixed factors, such as sex, much of the remaining variation is unexplained. This has led to increasing interest in the influence of adult lifestyle, particularly in the effects of modifiable factors such as physical activity and diet, and in identifying intervention opportunities both to prevent and manage sarcopenia. A number of trials have examined the separate effects of increased exercise or dietary supplementation on muscle mass and physical performance of older adults, but less is known about the extent to which benefits of exercise training could be enhanced when these interventions are combined. In a comprehensive review of the literature, we consider 17 studies of older adults (≥65 years) in which combined nutrition and exercise interventions were used to increase muscle strength and/or mass, and achieve improvements in physical performance. The studies were diverse in terms of the participants included (nutritional status, degree of physical frailty), supplementation strategies (differences in nutrients, doses), exercise training (type, frequency), as well as design (duration, setting). The main message is that enhanced benefits of exercise training, when combined with dietary supplementation, have been shown in some trials – indicating potential for future interventions, but that existing evidence is inconsistent. Further studies are needed, particularly of exercise training combined with dietary strategies that increase intakes of a range of nutrients, as well as bioactive non-nutrients, to provide the evidence on which public health and clinical recommendations can be based.
doi:10.2147/CIA.S55842
PMCID: PMC4435046  PMID: 25999704
sarcopenia; diet; exercise; intervention
3.  The feasibility and acceptability of training volunteer mealtime assistants to help older acute hospital in-patients: the Southampton Mealtime Assistance Study 
Journal of clinical nursing  2014;23(0):3240-3249.
Aims and objectives
To determine the feasibility and acceptability of using trained volunteers as mealtime assistants for older hospital inpatients.
Background
Poor nutrition among hospitalised older patients is common in many countries and associated with poor outcomes. Competing time pressures on nursing staff may make it difficult to prioritise mealtime assistance especially on wards where many patients need help.
Design
Mixed methods evaluation of the introduction of trained volunteer mealtime assistants on an acute female Medicine for Older People ward in a teaching hospital in England.
Methods
A training programme was developed for volunteers who assisted female inpatients aged 70 years and over on weekday lunchtimes. The feasibility of using volunteers was determined by the proportion recruited, trained, and their activity and retention over 1 year. The acceptability of the training and of the volunteers’ role was obtained through interviews and focus groups with 12 volunteers, 9 patients and 17 nursing staff.
Results
59 potential volunteers were identified: 38 attended a training session of whom 29 delivered mealtime assistance, including feeding, to 3,911 (76%) ward patients during the year (mean duration of assistance 5.5 months). The volunteers were positive about the practical aspects of training and on-going support provided. They were highly valued by patients and ward staff and have continued to volunteer.
Conclusions
Volunteers can be recruited and trained to help acutely unwell older female inpatients at mealtimes, including feeding. This assistance is sustainable and is valued.
Relevance to clinical practice
This paper describes a successful method for recruitment, training and retention of volunteer mealtime assistants. It includes a profile of those volunteers who provided the most assistance, details of the training programme and role of the volunteers, and could be replicated by nursing staff in other healthcare units.
doi:10.1111/jocn.12573
PMCID: PMC4196922  PMID: 24666963
Nutrition; older; hospital; volunteer; mealtime assistance; nurses; nursing
4.  Understanding NHS hospital admissions in England: linkage of Hospital Episode Statistics to the Hertfordshire Cohort Study 
Age and ageing  2014;43(5):653-660.
Background
Concern over the sustainability of the National Health Service is often focussed on rising numbers of hospital admissions, particularly among older people. Hospital admissions are enumerated routinely by the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) Service, but published data do not allow individual level service use to be explored. This study linked information on Hertfordshire Cohort Study (HCS) participants with HES inpatient data. with the objective of describing patterns and predictors of admissions among individuals.
Methods
2997 community-dwelling men and women aged 59-73 years completed a baseline HCS assessment between 1998 and 2004; HES and mortality data to 31/03/2010 were linked with the HCS database. This paper describes patterns of hospital use among the cohort at both the admission and individual person level.
Results
The cohort experienced 8741 admissions; rates were 391 per 1000 person-years among men (95%CI 380, 402) and 327 among women (95%CI 316,338), p<0.0001 for gender difference. 1187 men (75%) and 981 women (69%) were admitted to hospital at least once; among these, median numbers of admissions were 3 in men (IQR 1,6) and 2 in women (IQR 1,5). 48% of those ever admitted had experienced an emergency admission and 70% had been admitted overnight.
Discussion
It is possible to link routinely collected HES data with detailed information from a cohort study. Hospital admission is common among community dwelling ‘young-old’ men and women. These linked datasets will facilitate research into lifecourse determinants of hospital admission and inform strategies to manage demand on the National Health Service.
doi:10.1093/ageing/afu020
PMCID: PMC4151283  PMID: 24598084
hospital admissions; older people; hospital episode statistics; data linkage; healthcare burden
5.  Framingham cardiovascular disease risk scores and incident frailty: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing 
Age (Dordrecht, Netherlands)  2014;36(4):9692.
Cross-sectional studies show that frailty is common in older people with cardiovascular disease. Whether older people at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease are more likely to become frail is unclear. We used multinomial logistic regression to examine the prospective relation between Framingham cardiovascular disease risk scores and incidence of physical frailty or pre-frailty, defined according to the Fried criteria, in 1726 men and women aged 60 to over 90 years from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing who had no history of cardiovascular disease at baseline. Men and women with higher Framingham cardiovascular risk scores were more likely to become frail over the 4-year follow-up period. For a standard deviation higher score at baseline, the relative risk ratio (95% confidence interval) for incident frailty, adjusted for sex and baseline frailty status, was 2.76 (2.18, 3.49). There was a significant association between Framingham cardiovascular risk score and risk of pre-frailty: 1.69 (1.46, 1.95). After further adjustment for other potential confounding factors the relative risk ratios for frailty and pre-frailty were 2.15 (1.68, 2.75) and 1.50 (1.29, 1.74) respectively. The associations were unchanged after excluding incident cases of cardiovascular disease. Separate adjustment for each component of the risk score suggested that no single component was driving the associations between cardiovascular risk score and incident pre-frailty or frailty. Framingham cardiovascular risk scores may be useful for predicting the development of physical frailty in older people. We now need to understand the biological mechanisms whereby cardiovascular risk increases the risk of frailty.
doi:10.1007/s11357-014-9692-6
PMCID: PMC4129936  PMID: 25085033
frailty; cardiovascular risk; cohort; longitudinal study
6.  Grip Strength across the Life Course: Normative Data from Twelve British Studies 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e113637.
Introduction
Epidemiological studies have shown that weaker grip strength in later life is associated with disability, morbidity, and mortality. Grip strength is a key component of the sarcopenia and frailty phenotypes and yet it is unclear how individual measurements should be interpreted. Our objective was to produce cross-sectional centile values for grip strength across the life course. A secondary objective was to examine the impact of different aspects of measurement protocol.
Methods
We combined 60,803 observations from 49,964 participants (26,687 female) of 12 general population studies in Great Britain. We produced centile curves for ages 4 to 90 and investigated the prevalence of weak grip, defined as strength at least 2.5 SDs below the gender-specific peak mean. We carried out a series of sensitivity analyses to assess the impact of dynamometer type and measurement position (seated or standing).
Results
Our results suggested three overall periods: an increase to peak in early adult life, maintenance through to midlife, and decline from midlife onwards. Males were on average stronger than females from adolescence onwards: males’ peak median grip was 51 kg between ages 29 and 39, compared to 31 kg in females between ages 26 and 42. Weak grip strength, defined as strength at least 2.5 SDs below the gender-specific peak mean, increased sharply with age, reaching a prevalence of 23% in males and 27% in females by age 80. Sensitivity analyses suggested our findings were robust to differences in dynamometer type and measurement position.
Conclusion
This is the first study to provide normative data for grip strength across the life course. These centile values have the potential to inform the clinical assessment of grip strength which is recognised as an important part of the identification of people with sarcopenia and frailty.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113637
PMCID: PMC4256164  PMID: 25474696
7.  Inflammatory markers and incident frailty in men and women: the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing 
Age  2013;35(6):2493-2501.
Cross-sectional studies show that higher blood concentrations of inflammatory markers tend to be more common in frail older people, but longitudinal evidence that these inflammatory markers are risk factors for frailty is sparse and inconsistent. We investigated the prospective relation between baseline concentrations of the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein (CRP) and fibrinogen and risk of incident frailty in 2,146 men and women aged 60 to over 90 years from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. The relationship between CRP and fibrinogen and risk of incident frailty differed significantly by sex (p for interaction terms <0.05). In age-adjusted logistic regression analyses, for a standard deviation (SD) increase in CRP or fibrinogen, odds ratios (95 % confidence intervals) for incident frailty in women were 1.69 (1.32, 2.17) and 1.39 (1.12, 1.72), respectively. Further adjustment for other potential confounding factors attenuated both these estimates. For an SD increase in CRP and fibrinogen, the fully-adjusted odds ratio (95 % confidence interval) for incident frailty in women was 1.27 (0.96, 1.69) and 1.31 (1.04, 1.67), respectively. Having a high concentration of both inflammatory markers was more strongly predictive of incident frailty than having a high concentration of either marker alone. In men, there were no significant associations between any of the inflammatory markers and risk of incident frailty. High concentrations of the inflammatory markers CRP and fibrinogen are more strongly predictive of incident frailty in women than in men. Further research is needed to understand the mechanisms underlying this sex difference.
doi:10.1007/s11357-013-9528-9
PMCID: PMC3751755  PMID: 23543263
Frailty; Inflammation; C-reactive protein; Fibrinogen; Longitudinal study
8.  Lower Maternal Body Condition During Pregnancy Affects Skeletal Muscle Structure and Glut-4 Protein Levels But Not Glucose Tolerance in Mature Adult Sheep 
Reproductive Sciences  2013;20(10):1144-1155.
Suboptimal maternal nutrition and body composition are implicated in metabolic disease risk in adult offspring. We hypothesized that modest disruption of glucose homeostasis previously observed in young adult sheep offspring from ewes of a lower body condition score (BCS) would deteriorate with age, due to changes in skeletal muscle structure and insulin signaling mechanisms. Ewes were fed to achieve a lower (LBCS, n = 10) or higher (HBCS, n = 14) BCS before and during pregnancy. Baseline plasma glucose, glucose tolerance and basal glucose uptake into isolated muscle strips were similar in male offspring at 210 ± 4 weeks. Vastus total myofiber density (HBCS, 343 ± 15; LBCS, 294 ± 14 fibers/mm2, P < .05) and fast myofiber density (HBCS, 226 ± 10; LBCS 194 ± 10 fibers/mm2, P < .05), capillary to myofiber ratio (HBCS, 1.5 ± 0.1; LBCS 1.2 ± 0.1 capillary:myofiber, P < .05) were lower in LBCS offspring. Vastus protein levels of Akt1 were lower (83% ± 7% of HBCS, P < .05), and total glucose transporter 4 was increased (157% ± 6% of HBCS, P < .001) in LBCS offspring, Despite the reduction in total myofiber density in LBCS offspring, glucose tolerance was normal in mature adult life. However, such adaptations may lead to complications in metabolic control in an overabundant postnatal nutrient environment.
doi:10.1177/1933719113477494
PMCID: PMC3766346  PMID: 23420826
glucose uptake; myofibers; type 2 diabetes; maternal body condition; skeletal muscle
9.  Processed meat consumption and lung function: modification by antioxidants and smoking 
The European respiratory journal  2013;43(4):972-982.
Unhealthy dietary patterns are associated with poorer lung function. It is not known whether this is due to low consumption of antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables, or is a consequence of higher intakes of harmful dietary constituents such as processed meat.
We examined the individual and combined associations of processed meat, fruit and vegetable consumption and dietary total antioxidant capacity (TAC) with lung function among 1551 men and 1391 women in the Hertfordshire Cohort Study, UK. Diet was assessed by food frequency questionnaire.
After controlling for confounders, processed meat consumption was negatively associated with forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC) and FEV1/FVC in men and women, while fruit and vegetable consumption and dietary TAC were positively associated with FEV1 and FVC, but not FEV1/FVC. In men the negative association between processed meat consumption and FEV1 was more marked in those who had low fruit and vegetable consumption (Pinteraction=0.035), and low dietary TAC (Pinteraction=0.025). The deficit in FEV1/FVC associated with processed meat consumption was larger in men who smoked (Pinteraction=0.022).
Higher processed meat consumption is associated with poorer lung function, especially in men who have lower fruit and vegetable consumption or dietary TAC, and among current smokers.
doi:10.1183/09031936.00109513
PMCID: PMC3956622  PMID: 24176995
Dietary balance; total antioxidant capacity; fruit and vegetables; processed meat; lung function
10.  Grip strength and its determinants among older people in different healthcare settings 
Age and ageing  2013;43(2):241-246.
Background
Low muscle strength is central to geriatric syndromes including sarcopenia and frailty. It is well described in community dwelling older people but the epidemiology of grip strength of older people in rehabilitation or long term care has been little explored.
Objective
To describe grip strength of older people in rehabilitation and nursing home settings.
Design
Cross-sectional epidemiological study.
Setting
3 healthcare settings in one town.
Subjects
101 inpatients on a rehabilitation ward, 47 community rehabilitation referrals and 100 nursing home residents.
Methods
Grip strength, age, height, weight, body mass index, number of co-morbidities and medications, Barthel score, mini mental state examination (MMSE), nutritional status, and number of falls in the last year were recorded.
Results
Grip strength differed substantially between healthcare settings for both men and women (p<0.0001). Nursing home residents had the lowest age-adjusted mean grip strength and community rehabilitation referrals the highest. Broadly higher grip strength was associated in univariate analyses with younger age, greater height and weight, fewer comorbidities, higher Barthel score, higher MMSE score, better nutritional status and fewer falls. However after mutual adjustment for these factors, the difference in grip strength between settings remained significant. Barthel score was the characteristic most strongly associated with grip strength.
Conclusions
Older people in rehabilitation and care home settings had lower grip strength than reported for those living at home. Furthermore grip strength varied widely between healthcare settings independent of known major influences. Further research is required to ascertain whether grip strength may help identify people at risk of adverse health outcomes within these settings.
doi:10.1093/ageing/aft118
PMCID: PMC3918578  PMID: 23926093
grip strength; older; healthcare setting; rehabilitation; nursing home
11.  The dynamic relationship between cognitive function and walking speed: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing 
Age (Dordrecht, Netherlands)  2014;36(4):9682.
Cross-sectional studies show that older people with better cognition tend to walk faster. Whether this association reflects an influence of fluid cognition upon walking speed, vice versa, a bidirectional relationship, or the effect of common causes is unclear. We used linear mixed effects models to examine the dynamic relationship between usual walking speed and fluid cognition, as measured by executive function, verbal memory and processing speed, in 2654 men and women aged 60 to over 90 years from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. There was a bidirectional relation between walking speed and fluid cognition. After adjusting for age and sex, better performance on executive function, memory and processing speed was associated with less yearly decline in walking speed over the six-year follow-up period; faster walking speed was associated with less yearly decline in each cognitive domain; less yearly decline in each cognitive domain was associated with less yearly decline in walking speed. Effect sizes were small. After further adjustment for other covariates effect sizes were attenuated but most remained statistically significant. We found some evidence that walking speed and the fluid cognitive domains of executive function and processing speed may change in parallel with increasing age. Investigation of the association between walking speed and cognition earlier in life is needed to better understand the origins of this relation and inform the development and timing of interventions.
doi:10.1007/s11357-014-9682-8
PMCID: PMC4119879  PMID: 24997019
cohort studies; cognitive function; walking speed; ageing
12.  Framingham cardiovascular disease risk scores and incident frailty: the English longitudinal study of ageing 
Age  2014;36(4):9692.
Cross-sectional studies show that frailty is common in older people with cardiovascular disease. Whether older people at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease are more likely to become frail is unclear. We used multinomial logistic regression to examine the prospective relation between Framingham cardiovascular disease risk scores and incidence of physical frailty or pre-frailty, defined according to the Fried criteria, in 1,726 men and women aged 60 to over 90 years from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing who had no history of cardiovascular disease at baseline. Men and women with higher Framingham cardiovascular risk scores were more likely to become frail over the 4-year follow-up period. For a standard deviation higher score at baseline, the relative risk ratio (95 % confidence interval) for incident frailty, adjusted for sex and baseline frailty status, was 2.76 (2.18, 3.49). There was a significant association between Framingham cardiovascular risk score and risk of pre-frailty: 1.69 (1.46, 1.95). After further adjustment for other potential confounding factors, the relative risk ratios for frailty and pre-frailty were 2.15 (1.68, 2.75) and 1.50 (1.29, 1.74), respectively. The associations were unchanged after excluding incident cases of cardiovascular disease. Separate adjustment for each component of the risk score suggested that no single component was driving the associations between cardiovascular risk score and incident pre-frailty or frailty. Framingham cardiovascular risk scores may be useful for predicting the development of physical frailty in older people. We now need to understand the biological mechanisms whereby cardiovascular risk increases the risk of frailty.
doi:10.1007/s11357-014-9692-6
PMCID: PMC4129936  PMID: 25085033
Frailty; Cardiovascular risk; Cohort; Longitudinal study
13.  Psychological wellbeing and incident frailty in men and women: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing 
Psychological medicine  2013;44(4):697-706.
Background
Observations that older people who enjoy life more tend to live longer suggest that psychological wellbeing may be a potential resource for healthier ageing. We investigated whether psychological wellbeing was associated with incidence of physical frailty.
Methods
We used multinomial logistic regression to examine the prospective relation between psychological wellbeing, assessed using the CASP-19 questionnaire that assesses perceptions of control, autonomy, self-realization and pleasure, and incidence of physical frailty or pre-frailty, defined according to the Fried criteria, in 2557 men and women aged 60 to over 90 years from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.
Results
Men and women with higher levels of psychological wellbeing were less likely to become frail over the 4-year follow-up period. For a standard deviation higher score in psychological wellbeing at baseline, the relative risk ratio (95% confidence interval) for incident frailty, adjusted for age, sex and baseline frailty status, was 0.46 (0.40, 0.54). There was a significant association between psychological wellbeing and risk of pre-frailty: 0.69 (0.63, 0.77). Examination of scores for hedonic (pleasure) and eudaimonic (control, autonomy and self-realization) wellbeing showed that higher scores on both were associated with decreased risk. Associations were partially attenuated by further adjustment for other potential confounding factors but persisted. Incidence of pre-frailty or frailty was associated with a decline in wellbeing, suggesting that the relationship is bi-directional.
Conclusions
Maintaining a stronger sense of psychological wellbeing in later life may protect against the development of physical frailty. Future research needs to establish the mechanisms underlying these findings.
doi:10.1017/S0033291713001384
PMCID: PMC3818135  PMID: 23822897
14.  Physical capability and subsequent positive mental wellbeing in older people: findings from five HALCyon cohorts 
Age (Dordrecht, Netherlands)  2013;36(1):10.1007/s11357-013-9553-8.
Objective measures of physical capability are being used in a growing number of studies as biomarkers of healthy ageing. However, very little research has been done to assess the impact of physical capability on subsequent positive mental wellbeing, the maintenance of which is widely considered to be an essential component of healthy ageing. We aimed to test the associations of grip strength and walking, timed get up and go and chair rise speeds (assessed at ages 53 to 82 years) with positive mental wellbeing assessed using the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) five to ten years later. Data were drawn from five British cohorts participating in the HALCyon research collaboration. Data from each study were analysed separately and then combined using random-effects meta-analyses. Higher levels of physical capability were consistently associated with higher subsequent levels of wellbeing; for example, a 1SD increase in grip strength was associated with an age and sex-adjusted mean difference in WEMWBS score of 0.81 (0.25, 1.37), equivalent to 10% of a standard deviation (3 studies, N=3,096). When adjusted for body size, health status, living alone, socioeconomic position and neuroticism the associations remained albeit attenuated. The finding of these consistent modest associations across five studies, spanning early and later old age, highlights the importance of maintaining physical capability in later life and provides additional justification for using objective measures of physical capability as markers of healthy ageing.
doi:10.1007/s11357-013-9553-8
PMCID: PMC3818137  PMID: 23818103
physical capability; positive mental wellbeing; grip strength; walking speed; chair rise time
15.  Associations between APOE and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol genotypes and cognitive and physical capability: the HALCyon programme 
Age  2014;36(4):9673.
The APOE ε2/3/4 genotype has been associated with low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and Alzheimer disease. However, evidence for associations with measures of cognitive performance in adults without dementia has been mixed, as it is for physical performance. Associations may also be evident in other genotypes implicated in LDL-C levels. As part of the Healthy Ageing across the Life Course (HALCyon) collaborative research programme, genotypic information was obtained for APOE ε2/3/4, rs515135 (APOB), rs2228671 (LDLR) and rs629301 (SORT1) from eight cohorts of adults aged between 44 and 90 + years. We investigated associations with four measures of cognitive (word recall, phonemic fluency, semantic fluency and search speed) and physical capability (grip strength, get up and go/walk speed, timed chair rises and ability to balance) using meta-analyses. Overall, little evidence for associations between any of the genotypes and measures of cognitive capability was observed (e.g. pooled beta for APOE ε4 effect on semantic fluency z score = −0.02; 95 % CI = −0.05 to 0.02; p value = 0.3; n = 18,796). However, there was borderline evidence within studies that negative effects of APOE ε4 on nonverbal ability measures become more apparent with age. Few genotypic associations were observed with physical capability measures. The findings from our large investigation of middle-aged to older adults in the general population suggest that effects of APOE on cognitive capability are at most modest and are domain- and age-specific, while APOE has little influence on physical capability. In addition, other LDL-C-related genotypes have little impact on these traits.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11357-014-9673-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s11357-014-9673-9
PMCID: PMC4150901  PMID: 25073452
Ageing; Apolipoprotein E; Cognition; Single nucleotide polymorphism
16.  The dynamic relationship between cognitive function and walking speed: the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing 
Age  2014;36(4):9682.
Cross-sectional studies show that older people with better cognition tend to walk faster. Whether this association reflects an influence of fluid cognition upon walking speed, vice versa, a bidirectional relationship or the effect of common causes is unclear. We used linear mixed effects models to examine the dynamic relationship between usual walking speed and fluid cognition, as measured by executive function, verbal memory and processing speed, in 2,654 men and women aged 60 to over 90 years from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. There was a bidirectional relationship between walking speed and fluid cognition. After adjusting for age and sex, better performance on executive function, memory and processing speed was associated with less yearly decline in walking speed over the 6-year follow-up period; faster walking speed was associated with less yearly decline in each cognitive domain; and less yearly decline in each cognitive domain was associated with less yearly decline in walking speed. Effect sizes were small. After further adjustment for other covariates, effect sizes were attenuated but most remained statistically significant. We found some evidence that walking speed and the fluid cognitive domains of executive function and processing speed may change in parallel with increasing age. Investigation of the association between walking speed and cognition earlier in life is needed to better understand the origins of this relation and inform the development and timing of interventions.
doi:10.1007/s11357-014-9682-8
PMCID: PMC4119879  PMID: 24997019
Cohort studies; Cognitive function; Walking speed; Ageing
17.  Maternal antenatal vitamin D status and offspring muscle development: findings from the Southampton Women’s Survey 
The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism  2013;99(1):10.1210/jc.2013-3241.
Context
Maternal 25-hydroxy-vitamin D [25(OH)D] status in pregnancy has been associated with offspring bone development and adiposity. Vitamin D has also been implicated in postnatal muscle function but little is known about a role for antenatal 25(OH)D exposure in programming muscle development.
Objective
We investigated the associations between maternal plasma 25(OH)D status at 34 weeks gestation and offspring lean mass and muscle strength at 4 years of age.
Design and setting
A prospective UK population-based mother-offspring cohort: the Southampton Women’s Survey (SWS).
Participants
12583 non-pregnant women were initially recruited into SWS, of which 3159 had singleton pregnancies. 678 mother-child pairs were included in this analysis.
Main Outcomes Measured
At 4 years of age, offspring assessments included hand grip strength (Jamar Dynamometer) and whole body DXA (Hologic Discovery) yielding lean mass and %lean mass. Physical activity was assessed by 7-day accelerometry (Actiheart) in a subset of children (n=326).
Results
Maternal serum 25(OH)D concentration in pregnancy was positively associated with offspring height-adjusted hand grip strength (β=0.10 SD/SD, p=0.013), which persisted after adjustment for maternal confounding factors, duration of breastfeeding and child’s physical activity at 4 years (β=0.13 SD/SD, p=0.014). Maternal 25(OH)D was also positively associated with offspring %lean mass (β=0.11 SD/SD, p=0.006), but not total lean mass (β=0.06, p=0.15). This however did not persist after adjustment for confounding factors (β=0.09 SD/SD, p=0.11).
Conclusions
This observational study suggests that intrauterine exposure to 25(OH)D during late pregnancy might influence offspring muscle development through an effect primarily on muscle strength rather than muscle mass.
doi:10.1210/jc.2013-3241
PMCID: PMC3880861  PMID: 24178796
vitamin D; grip strength; muscle mass; fetal programming
18.  LOWER MATERNAL BODY CONDITION DURING PREGNANCY AFFECTS SKELETAL MUSCLE STRUCTURE AND GLUT-4 PROTEIN LEVELS BUT NOT GLUCOSE TOLERANCE IN MATURE ADULT SHEEP 
Sub-optimal maternal nutrition and body composition are implicated in metabolic disease risk in adult offspring. We hypothesized that modest disruption of glucose homeostasis previously observed in young adult sheep offspring from ewes of a lower body condition score (BCS) would deteriorate with age, due to changes in skeletal muscle structure and insulin signalling mechanisms. Ewes were fed to achieve a lower (L, n=10) or higher (H, n=14) BCS before and during pregnancy. Baseline plasma glucose, glucose tolerance and basal glucose uptake into isolated muscle strips was similar in male offspring at 210±4 weeks. Vastus total myofibre density (HBCS, 343±15; LBCS, 294±14 fibres/mm2, p<0.05) and fast myofibre density (HBCS, 226±10; LBCS 194±10 fibres/mm2, p<0.05), capillary to myofibre ratio (HBCS, 1.5±0.1; LBCS 1.2±0.1 capillary:myofibre, p<0.05) were lower in LBCS offspring. Vastus protein levels of Akt1 were lower (83±7% of HBCS, p<0.05), and total GLUT-4 was increased (157±6% of HBCS, p<0.001) in LBCS offspring, Despite the reduction in total myofibre density in LBCS offspring, glucose tolerance was normal in mature adult life. However such adaptations may lead to complications in metabolic control in an overabundant postnatal nutrient environment.
doi:10.1177/1933719113477494
PMCID: PMC3766346  PMID: 23420826
Glucose uptake; myofibres; type 2 diabetes; maternal body condition; skeletal muscle
19.  Quality of Life in Sarcopenia and Frailty 
Calcified tissue international  2013;93(2):101-120.
The reduced muscle mass and impaired muscle performance that defines sarcopenia in older individuals is associated with increased risk of physical limitation and a variety of chronic diseases. It may also contribute to clinical frailty.
A gradual erosion of quality of life (QoL) has been evidenced in these individuals, although much of this research has been done using generic QoL instruments, particularly the SF-36, which may not be ideal in older populations with significant comorbidities.
This review and report of an expert meeting, presents the current definitions of these geriatric syndromes (sarcopenia and frailty). It then briefly summarises QoL concepts and specificities in older populations, examines the relevant domains of QoL and what is known concerning QoL decline with these conditions. It calls for a clearer definition of the construct of disability and argues that a disease-specific QoL instrument for sarcopenia/frailty would be an asset for future research and discusses whether there are available and validated components that could be used to this end and whether the psychometric properties of these instruments are sufficiently tested. It calls also for an approach using utility weighting to provide some cost estimates and suggests that a time trade off study could be appropriate.
doi:10.1007/s00223-013-9758-y
PMCID: PMC3747610  PMID: 23828275
Age; aging; muscle weakness; quality of life; malnutrition
20.  Inflammatory markers and incident frailty in men and women: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing 
Age (Dordrecht, Netherlands)  2013;35(6):10.1007/s11357-013-9528-9.
Cross-sectional studies show that higher blood concentrations of inflammatory markers tend to be more common in frail older people but longitudinal evidence that these inflammatory markers are risk factors for frailty is sparse and inconsistent. We investigated the prospective relation between baseline concentrations of the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein and fibrinogen and risk of incident frailty in 2146 men and women aged 60 to over 90 years from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. The relationship between C-reactive protein and fibrinogen and risk of incident frailty differed significantly by sex (p for interaction terms <0.05). In age-adjusted logistic regression analyses, for a standard deviation increase in c-reactive protein or fibrinogen odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) for incident frailty in women were 1.69 (1.32, 2.17) and 1.39 (1.12, 1.72) respectively. Further adjustment for other potential confounding factors attenuated both these estimates. For an SD increase in CRP and fibrinogen the fully-adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval) for incident frailty in women was 1.27 (0.96, 1.69 and 1.31 (1.04, 1.67) respectively. Having a high concentration of both inflammatory markers was more strongly predictive of incident frailty than having a high concentration of either marker alone. In men, there were no significant associations between any of the inflammatory markers and risk of incident frailty. High concentrations of the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein and fibrinogen are more strongly predictive of incident frailty in women than in men. Further research is needed to understand the mechanisms underlying this sex difference.
doi:10.1007/s11357-013-9528-9
PMCID: PMC3751755  PMID: 23543263
frailty; inflammation; C-reactive protein; fibrinogen; longitudinal study
22.  Symptoms of anxiety or depression and risk of fracture in older people: The Hertfordshire Cohort Study 
Archives of osteoporosis  2012;7(0):59-65.
Background
Use of psychotropic drugs has been linked with an increased risk of fracture in older people, but there are indications that the conditions for which these drugs were prescribed may themselves influence fracture risk.
Aim
To investigate the relation between symptoms of anxiety and depression and risk of fracture in older people.
Design
Prospective cohort study.
Methods
1087 men and 1050 women aged 59-73 years completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Data on incident fracture during an average follow-up period of 5.6 years was collected through interview and a postal questionnaire.
Results
Compared to men with no or few symptoms of anxiety (score ≤7 on the HADS anxiety subscale), men with probable anxiety (score ≥11) had an increased risk of fracture: after adjustment for age and potential confounding factors, the odds ratio (OR) (95% confidence interval) was 4.03 (1.55, 10.5). Men with possible anxiety (score 8-10) did not have an increased risk of fracture: multivariate-adjusted OR was 1.04 (0.36, 3.03). There were no associations between levels of anxiety and fracture risk in women. Few men or women had probable depression at baseline (score ≥11 on the HADS depression subscale). Among men with possible depression (score 8-10) there was an increased risk of fracture that was of borderline significance: multivariate-adjusted OR 3.57 (0.99, 12.9). There was no association between possible depression and fracture risk in women.
Conclusions
High levels of anxiety in older men may increase their risk of fracture. Future research needs to replicate this finding in other populations and investigate the underlying mechanisms.
doi:10.1007/s11657-012-0080-5
PMCID: PMC3736098  PMID: 23225282
anxiety; depression; fracture
23.  How to get started with a systematic review in epidemiology: an introductory guide for early career researchers 
Archives of Public Health  2013;71(1):21.
Background
Systematic review is a powerful research tool which aims to identify and synthesize all evidence relevant to a research question. The approach taken is much like that used in a scientific experiment, with high priority given to the transparency and reproducibility of the methods used and to handling all evidence in a consistent manner.
Early career researchers may find themselves in a position where they decide to undertake a systematic review, for example it may form part or all of a PhD thesis. Those with no prior experience of systematic review may need considerable support and direction getting started with such a project. Here we set out in simple terms how to get started with a systematic review.
Discussion
Advice is given on matters such as developing a review protocol, searching using databases and other methods, data extraction, risk of bias assessment and data synthesis including meta-analysis. Signposts to further information and useful resources are also given.
Conclusion
A well-conducted systematic review benefits the scientific field by providing a summary of existing evidence and highlighting unanswered questions. For the individual, undertaking a systematic review is also a great opportunity to improve skills in critical appraisal and in synthesising evidence.
doi:10.1186/0778-7367-71-21
PMCID: PMC3844862  PMID: 23919540
Systematic review; Systematic review methods; Meta-analysis; Early career researchers; Evidence synthesis; Observational studies
24.  Evaluation of common genetic variants identified by GWAS for early onset and morbid obesity in population-based samples 
Background
Meta-analysis of case-control genome wide association studies (GWAS) for early onset and morbid obesity identified four variants in/near the PRL, PTER, MAF and NPC1 genes.
Objective
We aimed to validate association of these variants with obesity-related traits in population-based samples.
Design
Genotypes and anthropometric traits were available in up to 31 083 adults from the Fenland, EPIC-Norfolk, Whitehall II, Ely and Hertfordshire studies and in 2 042 children and adolescents from the European Youth Heart Study. In each study, we tested associations of rs4712652 (near-PRL), rs10508503 (near-PTER), rs1424233 (near-MAF) and rs1805081 (NPC1), or proxy variants (r2>0.8), with the odds of being overweight and obese, as well as with BMI, percentage body fat (%BF) and waist circumference (WC). Associations were adjusted for sex, age and age2 in adults and for sex, age, age-group, country and maturity in children and adolescents. Summary statistics were combined using fixed effects meta-analysis methods.
Results
We had 80% power to detect ORs of 1.046 to 1.092 for overweight and 1.067 to 1.136 for obesity. Variants near PRL, PTER and MAF were not associated with the odds of being overweight or obese, or with BMI, %BF or WC after meta-analysis (P > 0.15). The NPC1 variant rs1805081 showed some evidence of association with %BF (beta=0.013 SD/allele, P =0.040), but not with any of the remaining obesity-related traits (P >0.3).
Conclusion
Overall, these variants, which were identified in a GWAS for early onset and morbid obesity, do not seem to influence obesity-related traits in the general population.
doi:10.1038/ijo.2012.34
PMCID: PMC3680864  PMID: 22430306
Obesity-susceptibility loci; genome-wide association; morbid; early-onset; anthropometric traits; children and adolescents; population-based
25.  Telomere Length and Physical Performance at Older Ages: An Individual Participant Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69526.
Background
Telomeres are involved in cellular ageing and shorten with increasing age. If telomere length is a valuable biomarker of ageing, then telomere shortening should be associated with worse physical performance, an ageing trait, but evidence for such an association is lacking. The purpose of this study was to examine whether change in telomere length is associated with physical performance.
Methods
Using data from four UK adult cohorts (ages 53–80 years at baseline), we undertook cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. We analysed each study separately and then used meta-analytic methods to pool the results. Physical performance was measured using walking and chair rise speed, standing balance time and grip strength. Telomere length was measured by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in whole blood at baseline and follow-up (time 1, time 2).
Results
Total sample sizes in meta-analyses ranged from 1,217 to 3,707. There was little evidence that telomere length was associated with walking speed, balance or grip strength, though weak associations were seen with chair rise speed and grip strength at baseline (p = 0.02 and 0.01 respectively). Faster chair rise speed at follow-up, was associated with a smaller decline in telomere length between time 1 and time 2 (standardised coefficient per SD increase 0.061, 95% CI 0.006, 0.115, p = 0.03) but this was consistent with chance (p = 0.08) after further adjustment.
Conclusions
Whereas shortening of leukocyte telomeres might be an important measure of cellular ageing, there is little evidence that it is a strong biomarker for physical performance.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069526
PMCID: PMC3724915  PMID: 23922731

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