Muscle fat infiltration in chronic kidney disease: a marker related to muscle quality, muscle strength and sarcopenia


Muscle fat infiltration (MFI) also known as myosteatosis refers to any deposit of lipids found in the skeletal muscle. MFI is preferably assessed by image-based methods like computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance image (MRI) and ultrasound, normally from muscle groups located in the legs, arms and in the trunk. MFI is understood as a marker of muscle quality, where a muscle with higher fat deposition has lower contraction power and capacity to produce force per unit of muscle mass. This concept supports the hypothesis that a decrease in muscle strength is not always explained by a decrease in muscle mass, but also by other factors, including lipid deposition in the muscle. In the general population, MFI is associated with older age, physical inactivity and with insulin resistance and inflammation. In chronic kidney disease (CKD), MFI has been associated with a decrease in muscle strength and impaired muscle quality as well as with metabolic abnormalities, cardiovascular disease and increased mortality. Interventions aimed at reducing MFI in CKD are incipient, but it seems that guided exercise can ameliorate muscle quality in patients on hemodialysis. The aim of this narrative review about MFI in CKD is to draw attention to a still not often addressed complication in CKD. We conclude that more studies are warranted to investigate mechanisms and factors promoting MFI in CKD. Thus, clinical trials aimed at understanding the type, frequency and intensity of exercise that can diminish MFI and improve the clinical condition of the patients are needed.

Graphical Abstract