A New Surgical Model of Skeletal Muscle Injuries in Rats Reproduces Human Sports Lesions

P. Contreras-Muñoz, A. Fernández-Martín, R. Torrella, X. Serres, M. De La Varga, G. Viscor, T. A.H. Järvinen, V. Martínez-Ibáñez, J. L. Peiró, G. Rodas, Mario Marotta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


© Georg Thieme Verlag KG. Skeletal muscle injuries are the most common sports-related injuries in sports medicine. In this work, we have generated a new surgically-induced skeletal muscle injury in rats, by using a biopsy needle, which could be easily reproduced and highly mimics skeletal muscle lesions detected in human athletes. By means of histology, immunofluorescence and MRI imaging, we corroborated that our model reproduced the necrosis, inflammation and regeneration processes observed in dystrophic mdx-mice, a model of spontaneous muscle injury, and realistically mimicked the muscle lesions observed in professional athletes. Surgically-injured rat skeletal muscles demonstrated the longitudinal process of muscle regeneration and fibrogenesis as stated by Myosin Heavy Chain developmental (MHCd) and collagen-I protein expression. MRI imaging analysis demonstrated that our muscle injury model reproduces the grade I-II type lesions detected in professional soccer players, including edema around the central tendon and the typically high signal feather shape along muscle fibers. A significant reduction of 30% in maximum tetanus force was also registered after 2 weeks of muscle injury. This new model represents an excellent approach to the study of the mechanisms of muscle injury and repair, and could open new avenues for developing innovative therapeutic approaches to skeletal muscle regeneration in sports medicine.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-190
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • automatic biopsy needle
  • human sports lesions
  • rat model
  • skeletal muscle injury
  • surgical injury


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