Discussing the Pathophysiology of Volumetric Muscle Loss (VML) Injury.

Research Paper Title

Pathophysiology of Volumetric Muscle Loss Injury.


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 standardised 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 pre-clinical data indicate a complex pathophysiology after VML that presents multiple therapeutic targets.


Corona, B.T., Wenke, J.C. & Ward, C.L. (2016) Pathophysiology of Volumetric Muscle Loss Injury. Cells, Tissues, Organs. 202(3-4), pp.180-188. Epub 2016 Nov 9.


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