A model for hypokinesia: effects on muscle atrophy in the rat

X. J. Musacchia, D. R. Deavers, G. A. Meininger, T. P. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


Hypokinesia in the hindlimbs of rats was induced by suspension; a newly developed harness system was used. The animal was able to use its forelimbs to maneuver, within a 140° arc, to obtain food and water and to permit limited grooming of the forequarters. The hindlimbs were nonload bearing for 7 days; following a 7-day period of hypodynamia, selected animals were placed in metabolic cages for 7 days to study recovery from hypokinesia. During the 7-day period of hypokinesia there was evidence of muscle atrophy. Gastrocnemius weight decreased, renal papillary urea content increased, and daily urinary losses of urea, NH3, and 3-methylhistidine increased. During the 7-day recovery period muscle mass and excretion rate of urea, NH3 and 3-methylhistidine returned to control levels. Calcium balance was positive throughout the 7-day period of hypokinesia. Hypertrophy of the adrenals suggested the occurrence of some level of stress despite the apparent behavioral adjustment to the suspension harness. It was concluded that significant muscle atrophy and parallel changes in nitrogen metabolism occur in suspended rats and these changes are readily reversible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-486
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology Respiratory Environmental and Exercise Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1980

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology


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