Tacrolimus as an adjunct to autologous minced muscle grafts for the repair of a volumetric muscle loss injury

Benjamin T. Corona, Jessica C. Rivera, Joseph C. Wenke, Sarah M. Greising

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Volumetric muscle loss (VML) following extremity orthopaedic trauma or surgery results in chronic functional deficits and disability. A current translational approach to address the devastating functional limitations due to VML injury is the use of an autologous minced muscle graft (~1 mm3 pieces of muscle tissue) replacement into the injured defect area, although limitations related to donor site morbidity are still unaddressed. This study was designed to explore adjunct pharmacological immunomodulation to enhance graft efficacy and promote muscle function following VML injury, and thereby reduce the amount of donor tissue required. Findings: Using a validated VML porcine injury model in which 20% of the muscle volume was surgically removed, this study examined muscle function over 3 months post-VML injury. In vivo isometric torque of the peroneus teritus (PT) muscle was not different before surgery among sham, non-repaired, non-repaired with tacrolimus, graft-repaired, and graft-repaired with tacrolimus VML groups. Bi-weekly torque analysis of the VML injured musculature presented a significant strength deficit of ~26% compared to pre-injury in the non-repaired, non-repaired with tacrolimus, and graft-repaired groups. Comparatively, the strength deficit in the graft-repair with systemic tacrolimus was marginally improved (~19%; p = 0.056). Both of the minced graft repaired groups presented a greater proportion of muscle tissue in full-thickness histology specimen. Conclusions: We demonstrate that adjunctive use of tacrolimus with an ~50% minced muscle graft replacement resulted in modest improvements in muscle function 3 months after injury and repair, but the magnitude of improvement is not expected to elicit clinically meaningful functional improvements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number36
JournalJournal of Experimental Orthopaedics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Neuromuscular strength
  • Orthopaedic trauma
  • Porcine
  • Skeletal muscle injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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