Randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled trial of clenbuterol in denervated muscle atrophy

ISRN Pharm. 2011;2011:981254. doi: 10.5402/2011/981254. Epub 2011 Aug 15.


Objectives. β(2)-adrenergic agonists, such as clenbuterol, have been shown to promote the hypertrophy of healthy skeletal muscles and to ameliorate muscle wasting in a few pathological conditions in both animals and humans. We intended to investigate the clinical efficacy of clenbuterol on attenuating denervation-induced muscle atrophy. Methods. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel, and randomized trial was employed. 71 patients, suffering from brachial plexus injuries, were given either clenbuterol (60 μg, bid) or placebo for 3 months. Before and at the end of the study, patients were given physical examinations, biopsies of biceps brachii, electromyograms (EMGs), and other laboratory tests. Results. Compared with placebo treatment, clenbuterol significantly mitigated the decreases in cross-sectional areas of type I and II muscle fibers and alleviated the reduction in fibrillation potential amplitudes, without any adverse effects. Conclusions. Clenbuterol safely ameliorated denervated muscle atrophy in this cohort; thus larger clinical studies are encouraged for this or other β(2) agonists on denervation-induced muscle atrophy.