Pathophysiology of volumetric muscle loss injury

Benjamin T. Corona, Joseph C. Wenke, Catherine L. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Volumetric muscle loss (VML) injuries are prevalent in civilian and military trauma patients and are known to impart chronic functional deficits. The frank loss of muscle tissue that defines VML injuries is beyond the robust reparative and regenerative capacities of mammalian skeletal muscle. Given the nature of VML injuries, there is a clear need to develop therapies that promote de novo regeneration of skeletal muscle fibers, which can integrate with the remaining musculature and restore muscle strength. However, the pathophysiology of VML injuries is not completely defined, and, therefore, there may be other opportunities to improve functional outcomes other than de novo regeneration. Herein, clinical and preclinical studies of VML were reviewed to ascertain salient manifestations of VML injury that can impair limb function and muscle strength. The limited clinical data available highlighted proliferative fibrosis secondary to VML injury as a viable target to improve limb range of motion. Selected preclinical studies that used standardized neuromuscular functional assessments broadly identified that the muscle mass remaining after VML injury is performing suboptimally, and, therefore, percent VML strength deficits are significantly worse than can be explained by the initial frank loss of contractile machinery. Potential mechanisms of suboptimal strength of the remaining muscle mass suggested within the literature include intramuscular nerve damage, muscle architectural perturbations, and diminished transmission of force. Collectively, both clinical and preclinical data indicate a complex pathophysiology after VML that presents multiple therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-188
Number of pages9
JournalCells Tissues Organs
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Injury
  • Muscle biology
  • Muscle plasticity
  • Musculoskeletal biology
  • Musculoskeletal healing
  • Physiology
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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