Journal Article

Handgrip strength: indications of paternal inheritance in three European regions

Cournil, A., Jeune, B., Skytthe, A., Gampe, J., Passarino, G., Robine, J.-M.

Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 65A:10, 1101-1106 (2010)


Keywords: Denmark, France, Italy, centenarians, longevity


Background. Handgrip strength is an indicator of overall muscle strength. Poor handgrip strength is a risk factor for disability and mortality. We aimed to investigate the pattern of inheritance of handgrip strength in a sample of parent–offspring pairs from three different European regions in Denmark, France, and Italy. Methods. In this substudy of the European Challenge for Healthy Aging study, handgrip strength was measured in 290 subjects aged 90 years and older and in one of their offspring. Results. When all pairs were considered together, parental and offspring handgrip strength were weakly correlated (r = .16; p < .01). However, paternal–offspring correlation was significantly higher than maternal–offspring correlation (r = .26; confidence interval [CI]: 0.11–0.41 versus r = .03; CI: −0.14 to 0.19; p = .04). This difference was particularly marked for daughters (r = −.07; CI: −0.29 to 0.16 for mother–daughter correlation versus r = .31; CI: 0.11–0.49 for father–daughter; p = .01) compared with sons (r = .12; CI: −0.13 to 0.36 for mother–son correlation versus r = .25; CI: 0.00–0.46 for father–son; p = .47). Father–daughter correlation remained higher than mother–daughter when analyses were performed with 144 nondependent parents (r = .32; CI: 0.04; 0.55 versus r = −.25; CI: −0.61 to 0.21; p = .03). These results were similarly observed in the three regions of the study, where mean levels of handgrip strength strongly differed. Conclusions. It suggests that age-related effects on functional health among women could be mediated more through the paternal line than the maternal.