Fat accumulation in human skeletal muscles effects ability to perform everyday activities

July 22, 2015

Professor James Wakeling and his team including Biomedical Physiology & Kinesiology graduate student Hadi Rahemi, used a novel modeling approach to understand the effect of different distributions of fatty tissue within a muscle on the mechanical output of that muscle. His results, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, show that fat accumulation in human skeletal muscles, linked with obesity, ageing and many other diseases, causes a decline in the ability to perform everyday activities.

The results showed a general deterioration in the muscle quality with fat infiltration. The infiltration altered muscle tissue composition, changing the way in which the contractile forces were distributed through the muscle.  This, in turn, resulted in a substantial reduction in the whole muscle force.

Wakeling says, “Accumulation of intramuscular fat seems to be ubiquitous during ageing and for people with obesity. Understanding how this fat alters the ability of our muscles to develop force will mark an important step to help maintain mobility and a healthy lifestyle in all Canadians.”

This work was an interdisciplinary collaboration with mathematician Professor Nilima Nigam, who helped develop the conceptual mathematical and computational models used in this study.

Read the story in the Vancouver Sun.