To compare muscle size, body composition, bone mineral density (BMD), and metabolic profiles in denervated versus innervated individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI).
Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center.
Body composition, bone mineral density (BMD), muscle size, and metabolic parameters were collected in 16 persons with chronic SCI (n = 8 denervated, n = 8 innervated) using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and fasting blood samples. BMR was measured by indirect calorimetry.
Percent differences of the whole thigh muscle cross-sectional area (CSA; 38%), knee extensor CSA (49%), vasti CSA (49%), and rectus femoris CSA (61%) were smaller in the denervated group (p < 0.05). Leg lean mass was also lower (28%) in the denervated group (p < 0.05). Whole muscle intramuscular fat (IMF%; 15.5%), knee extensor IMF% (22%), and % fat mass (10.9%) were significantly greater in the denervated group (p < 0.05). Knee distal femur and proximal tibia BMD were lower in the denervated group, 18–22% and 17–23%; p < 0.05. Certain indices of metabolic profile were more favorable in the denervated group though were not significant.
SCI results in skeletal muscle atrophy and dramatic changes in body composition. Lower motor neuron (LMN) injury results in denervation of the lower extremity muscles which exacerbates atrophy. Denervated participants exhibited lower leg lean mass and muscle CSA, greater muscle IMF, and reduced knee BMD compared to innervated participants. Future research is needed to explore therapeutic treatments for the denervated muscles after SCI.
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The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request and after receiving approval from our research office for data sharing. The data were uploaded as Supplementary Material for review process only. After acceptance of the paper, the data will be available upon email communications with the corresponding author.
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The work was supported by the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Merit Program [Application # 1 I01 RX002649-01A; Protocol ID: B2649-R] by ASG. We would like to thank all the SCI participants who contributed their time and effort to complete the current work.
The authors declare no competing interests.
The authors certify that all applicable institutional and governmental regulations concerning the ethical use of human volunteers were followed during the course of this research.
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Alazzam, A.M., Goldsmith, J.A., Khalil, R.E. et al. Denervation impacts muscle quality and knee bone mineral density after spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord 61, 276–284 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41393-023-00885-3