Recovery of physical function in lung transplant recipients with sarcopenia

Etsuhiro Nikkuni, Takashi Hirama, Kazuki Hayasaka, Sakiko Kumata, Shinichi Kotan, Yui Watanabe, Hisashi Oishi, Hiromichi Niikawa, Masahiro Kohzuki, Yoshinori Okada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Lung transplant (LTX) can provide a survival benefit and improve physical function for selected patients with advanced pulmonary disease. Sarcopenia is a systemic muscle-failure that can be found in a variety of life stages and disabilities. In this study, we follow the evolution of each variable defined in sarcopenia and the outcomes in LTX recipients with post-transplant sarcopenia. Methods: Patients who underwent LTX at Tohoku University Hospital between 2013 and 2018 were consecutively included in the retrospective cohort study, with follow-up to 2019. Sarcopenia was defined by low muscle mass (the cross-sectional area (CSA) of erector spinae muscle (ESM) in thoracic CT with a threshold < 17.24 cm2/m2) and either low muscle strength (hand-grip with a threshold of < 26 kg in males and of < 18 kg in females) or physical performance (6-min walk distance with a threshold < 46.5% of predicted distance). Results: Fifty-five recipients were included into the study, of whom 19 patients were defined as sarcopenic and 36 as non-sarcopenic. The muscle mass improved after transplant in both sarcopenic and non-sarcopenic individuals: the median ESM-CSA enlarged from 17.25 cm2/m2 in 2 months post-LTX to 18.55 cm2/m2 in 12 months (p < 0.001) and 17.63 cm2/m2 in 36 months (p < 0.001) in non-sarcopenic individuals, while in sarcopenic patients it improved from 13.36 cm2/m2 in 2 months to 16.31 cm2/m2 in 12 months (p < 0.005) and 18.01 cm2/m2 in 36 months (p < 0.001). The muscle mass in sarcopenia substantially recovered to close to non-sarcopenic conditions within 36-months (p < 0.001 in 2 months and p = 0.951 in 36 months). Accordingly, muscle strength and physical performance in both groups improved over time. No difference in survival was seen in both groups (Log-rank p = 0.096), and sarcopenia was not associated with an overall hazard of death (p = 0.147). There was no difference in the cumulative incidence of chronic lung allograft dysfunction between patients with or without sarcopenia (Log-rank p = 0.529). Conclusions: Even patients with post-transplant sarcopenia have a chance to recover physical function to levels close to those without sarcopenia several years post LTX.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124
JournalBMC Pulmonary Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec


  • Erector spine muscle (ESM)
  • Hand-grip
  • Lung transplant
  • Muscle
  • Sarcopenia
  • Six-min walk distance (6MWD)


Dive into the research topics of 'Recovery of physical function in lung transplant recipients with sarcopenia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this