Skeletal muscle strength and endurance in recipients of lung transplants

Cardiopulm Phys Ther J. 2008 Sep;19(3):84-93.


Purpose: Exercise limitation in recipients of lung transplant may be a result of abnormalities in the skeletal muscle. However, it is not clear whether these abnormalities are merely a reflection of the changes observed in the pretransplant condition. The purpose of this paper was to compare thigh muscle volume and composition, strength, and endurance in lung transplant recipients to people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Methods: Single lung transplant recipients (n=6) and people with COPD (n=6), matched for age, sex, and BMI participated in the study. Subjects underwent MRI to determine muscle size and composition, lower extremity strength testing and an isometric endurance test of the quadriceps.

Results: Lung transplant recipients had similar muscle volumes and intramuscular fat infiltration of their thigh muscles and similar strength of the quadriceps and hamstrings to people with COPD who had not undergone transplant. However, quadriceps endurance tended to be lower in transplant recipients compared to people with COPD (15 +/- 7 seconds in transplant versus 31 +/- 12 seconds in COPD, p = 0.08).

Conclusions: Recipients of lung transplant showed similar changes in muscle size and strength as people with COPD, however muscle endurance tended to be lower in people with lung transplants. Impairments in muscle endurance may reflect the effects of immunosuppressant medications on skeletal muscle in people with lung transplant.

Keywords: MRI; lung transplant; muscle function.