Association Between Circulating Osteogenic Progenitor Cells and Disability and Frailty in Older Persons: The Nepean Osteoporosis and Frailty Study

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Circulating osteogenic progenitor (COP) cells are considered as surrogates of the mesenchymal repository in the body. In this study, we hypothesized that COP cells decrease with age and that lower levels of COP cells are associated with greater frailty and disability in older persons. Using well-established clinical criteria, we quantified physical performance and disability and stratified frailty in a random sample of community-dwelling individuals enrolled in the Nepean Osteoporosis and Frailty (NOF) Study (mean age 82.8; N = 77; 70% female; 27 nonfrail, 23 prefrail, and 27 frail). Percentage of COP cells was quantified by flow cytometry. Logistic regression models estimated the relationship between the percentage of COP cells and prevalent disability, poor physical performance, and frailty. We found that aging is associated with a significant decrease in COP cells ( p < .001). Lower percentages of COP cells were associated with disability and poor physical performance ( p < .001). Older adults with COP cells in the lower quartile were more likely to be frail (odds ratio 2.65, 95% confidence interval 2.72–3.15, p < .001). In conclusion, COP cells in the circulation decrease with age. Lower percentages of COP cells in late life are associated with prevalent frailty and disability. Further longitudinal studies are needed to understand COP cells as a risk stratifier, biomarker, or therapeutic target and to predict disability in frail older persons.

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