New work from the Killian Lab, in collaboration with Washington University and Imperial College London, on hip muscle imbalance during postnatal growth was recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research.
Abstract: The mechanical loading environment influences the development and maturation of joints. In this study, the influence of imbalanced muscular loading on joint development was studied using localized chemical denervation of hip stabilizing muscle groups in neonatal mice. It was hypothesized that imbalanced muscle loading, targeting either Gluteal muscles or Quadriceps muscles, would lead to bilateral hip joint asymmetry, as measured by acetabular coverage, femoral head volume and bone morphometry, and femoral-acetabular shape. The contralateral hip joints as well as age-matched, uninjected mice were used as controls. Altered bone development was analyzed using micro-computed tomography, histology, and image registration techniques at post-natal days (P) 28, 56, and 120. This study found that unilateral muscle unloading led to reduced acetabular coverage of the femoral head, lower total volume, lower bone volume ratio, and lower mineral density, at all three time points. Histologically, the femoral head was smaller in unloaded hips, with thinner triradiate cartilage at P28 and thinner cortical bone at P120 compared to contralateral hips. Morphological shape changes were evident in unloaded hips at P56. Unloaded hips had lower trabecular thickness and increased trabecular spacing of the femoral head compared to contralateral hips. The present study suggests that decreased muscle loading of the hip leads to altered bone and joint shape and growth during post-natal maturation. Statement of Clinical Significance: Adaptations from altered muscle loading during postnatal growth investigated in this study have implications on developmental hip disorders that result from asymmetric loading, such as patients with limb-length inequality or dysplasia.