The impact of bilateral injuries on the pathophysiology and functional outcomes of volumetric muscle loss

Connor P. Dolan, Andrew R. Clark, Jessica M. Motherwell, Naveena B. Janakiram, Michael S. Valerio, Christopher L. Dearth, Stephen M. Goldman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Volumetric muscle loss (VML)—defined as the irrecoverable loss of skeletal muscle tissue with associated persistent functional deficits—is among the most common and highly debilitating combat-related extremity injuries. This is particularly true in cases of severe polytrauma wherein multiple extremities may be involved as a result of high energy wounding mechanisms. As such, significant investment and effort has been made toward developing a clinically viable intervention capable of restoring the form and function of the affected musculature. While these investigations conducted to date have varied with respect to the species, breed, and sex of the chosen pre-clinical in-vivo model system, the majority of these studies have been performed in unilateral injury models, an aspect which may not fully exemplify the clinical representation of the multiply injured patient. Furthermore, while various components of the basal pathophysiology of VML (e.g., fibrosis and inflammation) have been investigated, relatively little effort has focused on how the pathophysiology and efficacy of pro-regenerative technologies is altered when there are multiple VML injuries. Thus, the purpose of this study was two-fold: (1) to investigate if/how the pathophysiology of unilateral VML injuries differs from bilateral VML injuries and (2) to interrogate the effect of bilateral VML injuries on the efficacy of a well-characterized regenerative therapy, minced muscle autograft (MMG). In contrast to our hypothesis, we show that bilateral VML injuries exhibit a similar systemic inflammatory response and improved muscle functional recovery, compared to unilateral injured animals. Furthermore, MMG treatment was found to only be effective at promoting an increase in functional outcomes in unilateral VML injuries. The findings presented herein add to the growing knowledge base of the pathophysiology of VML, and, importantly, reiterate the importance of comprehensively characterizing preclinical models which are utilized for early-stage screening of putative therapies as they can directly influence the translational research pipeline.

Original languageEnglish
Article number59
Journalnpj Regenerative Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


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