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International Journal of Endocrinology
Volume 2014, Article ID 309570, 11 pages
Review Article

Intermuscular Fat: A Review of the Consequences and Causes

1Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 10 North Green Street, BT/18/GRECC, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA
2Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA
3Department of Physical Therapy, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, USA
4Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA
5Department of Orthopedics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, USA

Received 24 September 2013; Accepted 18 December 2013; Published 8 January 2014

Academic Editor: Nicola Napoli

Copyright © 2014 Odessa Addison et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Muscle’s structural composition is an important factor underlying muscle strength and physical function in older adults. There is an increasing amount of research to support the clear disassociation between the loss of muscle lean tissue mass and strength with aging. This disassociation implies that factors in addition to lean muscle mass are responsible for the decreases in strength and function seen with aging. Intermuscular adipose tissue (IMAT) is a significant predictor of both muscle function and mobility function in older adults and across a wide variety of comorbid conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injury, diabetes, and COPD. IMAT is also implicated in metabolic dysfunction such as insulin resistance. The purpose of this narrative review is to provide a review of the implications of increased IMAT levels in metabolic, muscle, and mobility function. Potential treatment options to mitigate increasing levels of IMAT will also be discussed.