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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2015 May 15;118(10):1299-309. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01150.2014. Epub 2015 Feb 26.

Agent-based computational model investigates muscle-specific responses to disuse-induced atrophy.

Author information

1
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia;
2
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia; Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia; Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia; ssblemker@virginia.edu.
3
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia; Department of Ophthalmology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia; Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.

Abstract

Skeletal muscle is highly responsive to use. In particular, muscle atrophy attributable to decreased activity is a common problem among the elderly and injured/immobile. However, each muscle does not respond the same way. We developed an agent-based model that generates a tissue-level skeletal muscle response to disuse/immobilization. The model incorporates tissue-specific muscle fiber architecture parameters and simulates changes in muscle fiber size as a result of disuse-induced atrophy that are consistent with published experiments. We created simulations of 49 forelimb and hindlimb muscles of the rat by incorporating eight fiber-type and size parameters to explore how these parameters, which vary widely across muscles, influence sensitivity to disuse-induced atrophy. Of the 49 muscles modeled, the soleus exhibited the greatest atrophy after 14 days of simulated immobilization (51% decrease in fiber size), whereas the extensor digitorum communis atrophied the least (32%). Analysis of these simulations revealed that both fiber-type distribution and fiber-size distribution influence the sensitivity to disuse atrophy even though no single tissue architecture parameter correlated with atrophy rate. Additionally, software agents representing fibroblasts were incorporated into the model to investigate cellular interactions during atrophy. Sensitivity analyses revealed that fibroblast agents have the potential to affect disuse-induced atrophy, albeit with a lesser effect than fiber type and size. In particular, muscle atrophy elevated slightly with increased initial fibroblast population and increased production of TNF-α. Overall, the agent-based model provides a novel framework for investigating both tissue adaptations and cellular interactions in skeletal muscle during atrophy.

KEYWORDS:

agent-based model; fiber type; fibroblasts; muscle atrophy; tissue architecture

PMID:
25722379
PMCID:
PMC4436981
DOI:
10.1152/japplphysiol.01150.2014
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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