The study defines the genetic predisposition for muscle strength

Inherited predisposition for higher muscle strength.


Muscle strength, especially hand grip strength, might indicate a person’s physical resistance to age-related diseases, impairments, and ability to cope. Individual differences exist in this age-related loss of muscle strength, which is influenced by genetics and lifestyle decisions.

According to the study, there is a modest correlation between a person’s genetic predisposition for higher muscle strength and their chance of dying young and developing prevalent noncommunicable diseases. However, the study did not anticipate higher survival rates after unexpected health setbacks compared to their state before becoming ill.

Doctoral researcher Päivi Herranen from the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences said, “It seems that a genetic predisposition for higher muscle strength reflects more on an individual’s intrinsic ability to resist and protect oneself against pathological changes that occur during aging than the ability to recover or completely bounce back after severe adversity.”

This work created a polygenic score to assess the genetic tendency for muscle strength. This score combines the effects of hundreds of thousands of genetic variants into one value. Using this polygenic score, researchers could assess the relationships between inherited muscular strength and other characteristics, such as joint diseases, by comparing people with solid or low genetic predispositions for muscle strength.

The team used genetic and health outcomes data from over 340,000 Finnish men and women.

Information about genetic predisposition for muscle strength could complement traditional risk assessment methods in identifying individuals at higher risk for common diseases and health challenges. However, further research is necessary to understand the implications fully.

“We can’t determine from these findings how lifestyle factors, like physical activity, interact with a person’s inherent ability to resist diseases, or if their impact on health varies among individuals due to genetics,” Herranen explains.

The research used the FinnGen dataset, a unique resource assembled from Finnish biobanks. Three hundred forty-two thousand four hundred forty-three people between the ages of 40 and 108 were involved, with 53% being female. The diagnoses included a range of ailments, including cardiometabolic diseases, lung diseases, musculoskeletal problems, mental health disorders, and malignancies, as well as overall and cardiovascular mortality. The examination was based on Finland’s major noncommunicable diseases and leading causes of death.

Journal Reference:

  1. Herranen, P., Koivunen, K., Palviainen, T., FinnGen, Kujala, UM., Ripatti, S., Kaprio, J. & Sillanpää, E. (2024). Genome-wide polygenic score for muscle strength predicts risk for common diseases and lifespan: A prospective cohort study. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, glae064, DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glae064


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