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Rotator cuff muscles lose responsiveness to anabolic steroids after tendon tear and musculotendinous retraction: an experimental study in sheep


Gerber, Christian; Meyer, Dominik C; von Rechenberg, Brigitte; Hoppeler, Hans; Frigg, Robert; Farshad, Mazda (2012). Rotator cuff muscles lose responsiveness to anabolic steroids after tendon tear and musculotendinous retraction: an experimental study in sheep. American Journal of Sports Medicine, 40(11):2454-2461.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Long-standing rotator cuff tendon tearing is associated with retraction, loss of work capacity, irreversible fatty infiltration, and atrophy of the rotator cuff muscles. Although continuous musculotendinous relengthening can experimentally restore muscular architecture, restoration of atrophy and fatty infiltration is hitherto impossible.
HYPOTHESIS: Continuous relengthening with pharmacological stimulation of muscle growth using an anabolic steroid or insulin-like growth factor (IGF) can reverse atrophy and fatty infiltration as well as improve the work capacity of chronically retracted rotator cuff muscles in sheep.
STUDY DESIGN: Controlled laboratory study.
METHODS: Sixteen weeks after tenotomy of the infraspinatus (ISP) tendon, atrophy and fatty infiltration had developed in the retracted ISP muscle. The musculotendinous unit was continuously relengthened in 14 sheep during 6 weeks: Four sheep were treated without pharmacological stimulation, 4 with intramuscular administration of an anabolic steroid, and 6 with IGF before final repair and rehabilitation (12 weeks). Changes were documented by intraoperative measurements of muscle work capacity, histology, and computed tomography/magnetic resonance imaging.
RESULTS: Musculotendinous relengthening by continuous traction resulted in gains of length ranging from 0.7 cm in the IGF group to 1.3 cm in the control group. Fatty infiltration progressed in all groups, and the muscle's cross-sectional area ranged from 71% to 74% of the contralateral side at sacrifice and did not show any differences between groups in weight, volume, histological composition, or work capability of the muscle. The contralateral muscles in the anabolic steroid group, however, showed significantly higher (mean ± standard deviation) muscle work capacity of 10 ± 0.9 N·m than the contralateral muscles of the control group (6.8 ± 2.4 N·m) (P < .05). This was accompanied by an increased mean muscle fiber area as well as by an unusual gain in the animals' weight after injection of the anabolic steroid.
CONCLUSION: Subcutaneous continuous relengthening of a chronically retracted musculotendinous unit is feasible and advances the retracted musculotendinous junction toward its original position. This does not change the muscle work capacity. Whereas anabolic steroids have been shown to be effective in preventing classic degenerative muscle changes after tendon tears, neither an anabolic steroid nor IGF contributes to regeneration of the muscle once degenerative changes are established.
CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The findings demonstrate that muscle cells lose reactiveness to an anabolic steroid and IGF once retraction has led to fatty infiltration and atrophy of the muscle. Retraction of the muscle after tendon tears must be avoided by early repair, particularly in an athlete, as no regeneration can be achieved by mechanical or pharmacological means at this time.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Long-standing rotator cuff tendon tearing is associated with retraction, loss of work capacity, irreversible fatty infiltration, and atrophy of the rotator cuff muscles. Although continuous musculotendinous relengthening can experimentally restore muscular architecture, restoration of atrophy and fatty infiltration is hitherto impossible.
HYPOTHESIS: Continuous relengthening with pharmacological stimulation of muscle growth using an anabolic steroid or insulin-like growth factor (IGF) can reverse atrophy and fatty infiltration as well as improve the work capacity of chronically retracted rotator cuff muscles in sheep.
STUDY DESIGN: Controlled laboratory study.
METHODS: Sixteen weeks after tenotomy of the infraspinatus (ISP) tendon, atrophy and fatty infiltration had developed in the retracted ISP muscle. The musculotendinous unit was continuously relengthened in 14 sheep during 6 weeks: Four sheep were treated without pharmacological stimulation, 4 with intramuscular administration of an anabolic steroid, and 6 with IGF before final repair and rehabilitation (12 weeks). Changes were documented by intraoperative measurements of muscle work capacity, histology, and computed tomography/magnetic resonance imaging.
RESULTS: Musculotendinous relengthening by continuous traction resulted in gains of length ranging from 0.7 cm in the IGF group to 1.3 cm in the control group. Fatty infiltration progressed in all groups, and the muscle's cross-sectional area ranged from 71% to 74% of the contralateral side at sacrifice and did not show any differences between groups in weight, volume, histological composition, or work capability of the muscle. The contralateral muscles in the anabolic steroid group, however, showed significantly higher (mean ± standard deviation) muscle work capacity of 10 ± 0.9 N·m than the contralateral muscles of the control group (6.8 ± 2.4 N·m) (P < .05). This was accompanied by an increased mean muscle fiber area as well as by an unusual gain in the animals' weight after injection of the anabolic steroid.
CONCLUSION: Subcutaneous continuous relengthening of a chronically retracted musculotendinous unit is feasible and advances the retracted musculotendinous junction toward its original position. This does not change the muscle work capacity. Whereas anabolic steroids have been shown to be effective in preventing classic degenerative muscle changes after tendon tears, neither an anabolic steroid nor IGF contributes to regeneration of the muscle once degenerative changes are established.
CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The findings demonstrate that muscle cells lose reactiveness to an anabolic steroid and IGF once retraction has led to fatty infiltration and atrophy of the muscle. Retraction of the muscle after tendon tears must be avoided by early repair, particularly in an athlete, as no regeneration can be achieved by mechanical or pharmacological means at this time.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Balgrist University Hospital, Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Center
05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Equine Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
Language:English
Date:November 2012
Deposited On:15 Nov 2012 12:18
Last Modified:18 Aug 2018 06:23
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0363-5465
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0363546512460646
PubMed ID:23024152

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