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Performance of repetitive tasks induces decreased grip strength and increased fibrogenic proteins in skeletal muscle: role of force and inflammation.

Abdelmagid SM; Barr AE; Rico M; Amin M; Litvin J; Popoff SN; Safadi FF; Barbe MF
PLoS One 2012 May; 7(5):e38359
BACKGROUND: This study elucidates exposure-response relationships between performance of repetitive tasks, grip strength declines, and fibrogenic-related protein changes in muscles, and their link to inflammation. Specifically, we examined forearm flexor digitorum muscles for changes in connective tissue growth factor (CTGF; a matrix protein associated with fibrosis), collagen type I (Col1; a matrix component), and transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGFB1; an upstream modulator of CTGF and collagen), in rats performing one of two repetitive tasks, with or without anti-inflammatory drugs. METHODOLOGY/RESULTS: To examine the roles of force versus repetition, rats performed either a high repetition negligible force food retrieval task (HRNF), or a high repetition high force handle-pulling task (HRHF), for up to 9 weeks, with results compared to trained only (TR-NF or TR-HF) and normal control rats. Grip strength declined with both tasks, with the greatest declines in 9-week HRHF rats. Quantitative PCR (qPCR) analyses of HRNF muscles showed increased expression of Col1 in weeks 3-9, and CTGF in weeks 6 and 9. Immunohistochemistry confirmed PCR results, and also showed greater increases of CTGF and collagen matrix in 9-week HRHF rats than 9-week HRNF rats. ELISA, and immunohistochemistry revealed greater increases of TGFB1 in TR-HF and 6-week HRHF, compared to 6-week HRNF rats. To examine the role of inflammation, results from 6-week HRHF rats were compared to rats receiving ibuprofen or anti-TNF-a treatment in HRHF weeks 4-6. Both treatments attenuated HRHF-induced increases in CTGF and fibrosis by 6 weeks of task performance. Ibuprofen attenuated TGFB1 increases and grip strength declines, matching our prior results with anti-TNFa. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Performance of highly repetitive tasks was associated with force-dependent declines in grip strength and increased fibrogenic-related proteins in flexor digitorum muscles. These changes were attenuated, at least short-term, by anti-inflammatory treatments.
Repetitive-work; Musculoskeletal-system; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Muscles; Muscle-physiology; Muscular-disorders; Hand-injuries; Fibrogenicity; Proteins; Skeletal-system; Skeletal-system-disorders; Force; Injuries; Fibrosis; Laboratory-animals; Exposure-levels
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement; Grant
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U01-OH-008599; Grant-Number-R01-OH-003970; B09112012
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Public Library of Science One
Performing Organization
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division