A dynamic simulation of musculoskeletal function in the mouse hindlimb during trotting locomotion

Charles, J P and Cappellari, I and Hutchinson, J R (2018) A dynamic simulation of musculoskeletal function in the mouse hindlimb during trotting locomotion. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, 6 (61).

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Mice are often used as animal models of various human neuromuscular diseases, and analysis of these models often requires detailed gait analysis. However, little is known of the dynamics of the mouse musculoskeletal system during locomotion. In this study, we used computer optimization procedures to create a simulation of trotting in a mouse, using a previously developed mouse hindlimb musculoskeletal model in conjunction with new experimental data, allowing muscle forces, activation patterns, and levels of mechanical work to be estimated. Analyzing musculotendon unit (MTU) mechanical work throughout the stride allowed a deeper understanding of their respective functions, with the rectus femoris MTU dominating the generation of positive and negative mechanical work during the swing and stance phases. This analysis also tested previous functional inferences of the mouse hindlimb made from anatomical data alone, such as the existence of a proximo-distal gradient of muscle function, thought to reflect adaptations for energy-efficient locomotion. The results do not strongly support the presence of this gradient within the mouse musculoskeletal system, particularly given relatively high negative net work output from the ankle plantarflexor MTUs, although more detailed simulations could test this further. This modeling analysis lays a foundation for future studies of the control of vertebrate movement through the development of neuromechanical simulations.

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