Predicting Disability and Frailty in Older Persons: The Western Osteosarcopenia and Frailty (WOSF) Study

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Masters by Research, Honours students
Number of Honour Places Available
1
Number of Master Places Available
1
Department / Centre
Medicine and Radiology
Location
Western Health
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au Personal web page

Summary Several potential operational definitions of frailty have been proposed, but none has become the gold standard for identifying frailty in the clinical or research setting. Therefore, the research agenda on frailty is focusing on the development of robust biomarkers and diagnostic tests for frailty.

Project Details

The anticipated rise in the number of older people this century will inevitably be accompanied by an increase in the number of people with disabilities. Frailty, which comprises changes associated with ageing and chronic disease, usually precedes disability. Several potential operational definitions of frailty have been proposed, but none has become the gold standard for identifying frailty in the clinical or research setting. Therefore, the research agenda on frailty is focusing on the development of robust biomarkers and diagnostic tests for frailty.

Sarcopenia is a geriatric syndrome encompassing the loss of muscle mass and strength or physical performance with age. Sarcopenia is a major determinant of frailty. The term osteosarcopenia has been used to describe those frailer subjects suffering from both osteopenia/osteoporosis and sarcopenia. Between 2009-15, we comprehensively assessed 960 older fallers from Western Sydney (mean age=82, 62% female). We found that 40% of this population fulfilled clinical criteria for osteosarcopenia. In addition, this sub-population was frailer and showed a higher prevalence of falls and fractures. We locally tested and validated quantification of the percentage of circulating osteoprogenitors (COP) cells (%COP) as a surrogate of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Our results demonstrated an age-related decline in %COP, while also allowing us to identify a reference range of %COP in an age and gender-matched population, which was previously unknown. We also found that this method is non-invasive, reliable and easy to perform, with strong potential to translate into clinical practice in the near future. We hypothesise that %COP is highly likely to become a robust biomarker for frailty and a predictor of osteosarcopenia, frailty and disability in older persons. The Western Osteosarcopenia and Frailty (WOSF) Study will comprehensively assess and closely follow a larger sample of older persons (65 and older) in Western Melbourne once a year for a period of 3 years. Expected outcomes will include the validation of a new biomarker for the diagnosis of frailty, and the identification of its predictive value for osteosarcopenia, frailty and disability.


School Research Themes

Ageing, Musculoskeletal



Research Opportunities

PhD students, Masters by Research, Honours students
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department / Centre

Medicine and Radiology

Research Node

Western Health

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