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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Body composition study in the elderly: comparison between tritium dilution method and dual photon absorptiometry.

BACKGROUND. The methods commonly employed in body composition study in elderly persons derive fat-free mass (FFM) by measures of total body water (TBW); these methods assume FFM hydration constant (TBW/FFM = 0.732). The aim of our study was to verify the accuracy of the TBW method in FFM estimation and to study the variability of fat-free mass hydration (TBW/FFM) in healthy elderly subjects. METHODS. We assessed FFM in 27 healthy old subjects (76 +/- 7 yrs) by dual photon absorptiometry (DPA) and by TBW measured by 3H2O. Furthermore, to verify the accuracy in FFM estimation by our methods, we measured resting metabolic rate (RMR) by indirect calorimetry. RESULTS. FFM hydration was 71.9 +/- 4.9 (range 63.6-80.4%), a range larger than that reported by direct chemical analysis in adults. The FFM hydration measured in our subjects was not different from the 73.2 value currently used in healthy adults. FFM values derived by TBW (assuming TBW/FFM = 0.732) were not significantly different from FFM measured by DPA. We correlated FFM with resting metabolic rate and found a similar correlation between RMR and FFM-DPA (r = .89, p < .001) and FFM-TBW (r = .85, p < .001). CONCLUSIONS. Both methods employed in our study have proved to be accurate in estimating FFM in elderly persons; particularly, the value of 0.732 assigned to FFM hydration to derive fat-free mass in adults can be employed also in body composition study of the elderly.[1]


  1. Body composition study in the elderly: comparison between tritium dilution method and dual photon absorptiometry. Sergi, G., Perini, P., Bussolotto, M., Zurlo, F., Malvasi, L., Carraro, R., Del Prato, S., Giantin, V., Enzi, G. Journal of gerontology. (1993) [Pubmed]
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