Pharmaceutical Agents for Contractile-Metabolic Dysfunction After Volumetric Muscle Loss

Jennifer Mcfaline-Figueroa, Albino G. Schifino, Anna S. Nichenko, Magen N. Lord, Edward T. Hunda, Elizabeth A. Winders, Emily E. Noble, Sarah M. Greising, Jarrod A. Call

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Volumetric muscle loss (VML) injuries represent a majority of military service member casualties and are common in civilian populations following blunt and/or penetrating traumas. Characterized as a skeletal muscle injury with permanent functional impairments, there is currently no standard for rehabilitation, leading to lifelong disability. Toward developing rehabilitative strategies, previous research demonstrates that the remaining muscle after a VML injury lacks similar levels of plasticity or adaptability as healthy, uninjured skeletal muscle. This may be due, in part, to impaired innervation and vascularization of the remaining muscle, as well as disrupted molecular signaling cascades commonly associated with muscle adaptation. The primary objective of this study was to assess the ability of four pharmacological agents with a strong record of modulating muscle contractile and metabolic function to improve functional deficits in a murine model of VML injury. Male C57BL/6 mice underwent a 15% multimuscle VML injury of the posterior hindlimb and were randomized into drug treatment groups (formoterol [FOR], 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide riboside [AICAR], pioglitazone [PIO], or sildenafil [SIL]) or untreated VML group. At the end of 60 days, the injury model was first validated by comparison to age-matched injury-naive mice. Untreated VML mice had 22% less gastrocnemius muscle mass, 36% less peak-isometric torque, and 27% less maximal mitochondrial oxygen consumption rate compared to uninjured mice (p < 0.01). Experimental drug groups were, then, compared to VML untreated, and there was minimal evidence of efficacy for AICAR, PIO, or SIL in improving contractile and metabolic functional outcomes. However, FOR-treated VML mice had 18% greater peak isometric torque (p < 0.01) and permeabilized muscle fibers had 36% greater State III mitochondrial oxygen consumption rate (p < 0.01) compared to VML untreated mice, suggesting an overall improvement in muscle condition. There was minimal evidence that these benefits came from greater mitochondrial biogenesis and/or mitochondrial complex protein content, but could be due to greater enzyme activity levels for complex I and complex II. These findings suggest that FOR treatment is candidate to pair with a rehabilitative approach to maximize functional improvements in VML-injured muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)795-806
Number of pages12
JournalTissue Engineering - Part A
Issue number17-18
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding support from the Department of Defense, through the Clinical and Rehabilitative Medicine Research Program, FY18 Neuromusculoskeletal Injuries Rehabilitation Research Award (W81XWH-18-1-0710 to S.M.G. [UMN], and J.A.C. [UGA]).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


  • mitochondria respiration
  • muscle strength
  • regenerative rehabilitation
  • traumatic injury


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