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Electrical impedance alterations in the rat hind limb with unloading.

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Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School,USA.



Methods are needed for quantifying muscle deconditioning due to immobilization, aging, or spaceflight. Electrical impedance myography (EIM) is one technique that may offer easy-to-follow metrics. Here, we evaluate the time course and character of the change in single- and multi-frequency EIM parameters in the hind-limb suspension model of muscle deconditioning in rats.


Sixty-two rats were studied with EIM during a two-week period of hind limb unloading followed by a two-week recovery period. Random subsets of animals were sacrificed at one-week time intervals to measure muscle fiber size.


Significant alterations were observed in nearly all impedance parameters. The 50 kHz phase and multi-frequency phase-slope, created by taking the slope of a line fitted to the impedance values between 100-500 kHz, appeared most sensitive to disuse atrophy, the latter decreasing by over 33.0±6.6% (p<0.001), a change similar to the maximum reduction in muscle fiber size. Impedance alterations, however, lagged changes in muscle fiber size.


EIM is sensitive to disuse change in the rat, albeit with a delay relative to alterations in muscle fiber size. Given the rapidity and simplicity of EIM measurements, the technique could prove useful in providing a non-invasive approach to measuring disuse change in animal models and human subjects.

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