Impact of volumetric muscle loss injury on persistent motoneuron axotomy

Benjamin T. Corona, Kate E. Flanagan, Christian M. Brininger, Stephen M. Goldman, Jarrod A. Call, Sarah M. Greising*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Introduction: Volumetric muscle loss (VML) occurs following significant traumatic injury or surgical removal of skeletal muscle, resulting in nonrecoverable loss of tissue and long-term dysfunction. Perhaps less recognized is that VML injuries inherently disrupt the neuromuscular unit, resulting in fiber denervation and presumptive motor unit rearrangement, expansion, and/or loss. To characterize neural dysfunction we quantified motoneuron axotomy, in efforts to understand how this relates to the temporal coordination of neuromuscular and morphological alterations due to injury. Methods: In an established rat tibialis anterior (TA) VML injury model, we examined the motoneuron, skeletal muscle, and maximal isometric torque at 3, 7, 14, and 21 days postinjury. Results: Significant axotomy of 57–79% of all TA muscle motoneurons was observed through 21 days postinjury, which was coupled with a 45–90% TA maximal torque deficit. Discussion: A ∼20% partial ablation of the TA muscle causes disproportionate damage across the motor unit acutely postinjury. Muscle Nerve 57: 799–807, 2018.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-807
Number of pages9
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • innervated muscle units
  • motor unit
  • muscle fiber
  • neuromuscular strength
  • neuromusculoskeletal injury
  • orthopedic trauma


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