Time course of skeletal muscle regeneration after severe trauma

Acta Orthop. 2011 Feb;82(1):102-11. doi: 10.3109/17453674.2010.539498. Epub 2010 Dec 13.


Background and purpose: Animal models of skeletal muscle injury should be thoroughly described and should mimic the clinical situation. We established a model of a critical size crush injury of the soleus muscle in rats. The aim was to describe the time course of skeletal muscle regeneration using mechanical, histological, and magnetic resonance (MR) tomographic methods.

Methods: Left soleus muscles of 36 Sprague-Dawley rats were crushed in situ in a standardized manner. We scanned the lower legs of 6 animals by 7-tesla MR one week, 4 weeks, and 8 weeks after trauma. Regeneration was evaluated at these times by in vivo measurement of muscle contraction forces after fast-twitch and tetanic stimulation (groups 1W, 4W, 8W; 6 per group). Histological and immunohistological analysis was performed and the amount of fibrosis within the injured muscles was determined histomorphologically.

Results: MR signals of the traumatized soleus muscles showed a clear time course concerning microstructure and T1 and T2 signal intensity. Newly developed neural endplates and myotendinous junctions could be seen in the injured zones of the soleus. Tetanic force increased continuously, starting at 23% (SD 4) of the control side (p < 0.001) 1 week after trauma and recovering to 55% (SD 23) after 8 weeks. Fibrotic tissue occupied 40% (SD 4) of the traumatized muscles after the first week, decreased to approximately 25% after 4 weeks, and remained at this value until 8 weeks.

Interpretation: At both the functional level and the morphological level, skeletal muscle regeneration follows a distinct time course. Our trauma model allows investigation of muscle regeneration after a standardized injury to muscle fibers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Regeneration / physiology*
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / pathology
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Time Factors
  • Wound Healing / physiology*