Introduction and hypothesis: Animal models are essential to further our understanding of the independent and combined function of human pelvic floor muscles (PFMs), as direct studies in women are limited. To assure suitability of the rhesus macaque (RM), we compared RM and human PFM architecture, the strongest predictor of muscle function. We hypothesized that relative to other models, RM best resembles human PFM.
Methods: Major architectural parameters of cadaveric human coccygeus, iliococcygeus, and pubovisceralis (pubococcygeus + puborectalis) and corresponding RM coccygeus, iliocaudalis, and pubovisceralis (pubovaginalis + pubocaudalis) were compared using 1- and 2-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with post hoc testing. Architectural difference index (ADI), a combined measure of functionally relevant structural parameters predictive of length-tension, force-generation, and excursional muscle properties was used to compare PFMs across RM, rabbit, rat, and mouse.
Results: RM and human PFMs were similar with respect to architecture. However, the magnitude of similarity varied between individual muscles, with the architecture of the most distinct RM PFM, iliocaudalis, being well suited for quadrupedal locomotion. Except for the pubovaginalis, RM PFMs inserted onto caudal vertebrae, analogous to all tailed animals. Comparison of the PFM complex architecture across species revealed the lowest, thus closest to human, ADI for RM (1.9), followed by rat (2.0), mouse (2.6), and rabbit (4.7).
Conclusions: Overall, RM provides the closest architectural representation of human PFM complex among species examined; however, differences between individual PFMs should be taken into consideration. As RM is closely followed by rat with respect to PFM similarity with humans, this less-sentient and substantially cheaper model is a good alternative for PFM studies.
Keywords: Muscle architecture; Pelvic floor muscles; Rhesus macaque.