Purpose: Volumetric muscle loss is a uniquely challenging pathology that results in irrecoverable functional deficits. Furthermore, a breakthrough drug or bioactive factor has yet to be established that adequately improves repair of these severe skeletal muscle injuries. This study sought to assess the ability of an orally administered selective retinoic acid receptor-γ agonist, palovarotene, to improve recovery of neuromuscular strength in a rat model of volumetric muscle loss. Methods: An irrecoverable, full thickness defect was created in the tibialis anterior muscle of Lewis rats and animals were survived for 4 weeks. Functional recovery of the tibialis anterior muscle was assessed in vivo via neural stimulation and determination of peak isometric torque. Histological staining was performed to qualitatively assess fibrous scarring of the defect site. Results: Treatment with the selective retinoic acid receptor-γ agonist, palovarotene, resulted in a 38% improvement of peak isometric torque in volumetric muscle loss affected limbs after 4 weeks of healing compared to untreated controls. Additionally, preliminary histological assessment suggests that oral administration of palovarotene reduced fibrous scarring at the defect site. Conclusions: These results highlight the potential role of selective retinoic acid receptor-γ agonists in the design of regenerative medicine platforms to maximize skeletal muscle healing. Additional studies are needed to further elucidate cellular responses, optimize therapeutic delivery, and characterize synergistic potential with adjunct therapies.
- Muscle function
- RAR agonist
- Volumetric muscle loss
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine