Muscle fibre damage and regeneration resulting from surgical limb distraction

P Williams, H Simpson, J Kenwright, G Goldspink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using an animal model of limb distraction, the extent of muscle fibre damage and atrophy resulting from distraction at two different rates (1.3 or 3.0 mm day(-1)) was investigated. It was found that at the high rate of distraction there was a significantly greater loss of range of joint movement and more muscle fibre atrophy and fibre damage than at the low rate. Muscle fibre damage is usually followed by regeneration. This involves the expression of the neonatal form of myosin heavy chain, which can therefore be used as an indicator of regeneration. It was found that whilst many more fibres showed evidence of damage at the high compared to the low rate, the number of fibres expressing neonatal myosin was significantly reduced, indicating the presence of a population of fibres which was undergoing degeneration without subsequent regeneration. Thus it would appear that beyond a certain rate of distraction, regeneration may be insufficient to replace contractile material damaged by overstretching. It is suggested that these fibres are replaced with connective tissue. This process may contribute to the muscle weakness and loss of range of joint movement which sometimes accompanies limb distraction procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-400
Number of pages6
JournalCells tissues organs
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Animals
  • External Fixators
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Muscular Atrophy
  • Myosin Heavy Chains
  • Osteogenesis, Distraction
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Rabbits
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Regeneration


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