Skip to main content

Skeletal Muscle Structure and Function

Project Description

FiberTractsAt every level of biological complexity, muscle structure significantly influences muscle function. These properties include the intermediate-scale relationships known as muscle architecture: the shape and orientation of a muscle’s fibers with respect to its mechanical line of action. Our understanding of how muscle architecture affects muscle function remains incomplete, however, and our tools for studying these relationships are insufficiently developed. As a result, there are critical gaps in our understanding of how pathologically altered muscle architecture in diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy may impair muscle function and even elevate the risk of future injury.

Our specific aims for this project are:

  • To validate MRI methods for quantifying muscle architecture in a broad range of states of muscle health and disease, at rest and during contraction
  • To advance the quantitative understanding of the functional impact of muscle architecture in healthy and dystrophic human muscle; and
  • To distribute data and software for MRI-based muscle structure-function analysis


We have an outstanding, multi-institutional team of collaborators:


This project is funded by an R01 award from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Representative Publications

Damon BM, Froeling M, Buck AKW, Oudeman J, Ding Z, Nederveen A, Bush EC, Strijkers GJ. (2017). Skeletal muscle DT-MRI fiber tracking: Rationale, data acquisition and analysis methods, applications, and future directionsNMR in Biomedicine. 30:e3563, doi: 10.1002/nbm.3563.

Towse TF, Elder CP, Bush EC, Klockenkemper S, Bullock JT, Dortch RD, Damon BM. (2016). Post-contractile BOLD contrast in skeletal muscle at 7 Tesla reveals inter-individual heterogeneity in the physiological responses to muscle contractionNMR in Biomedicine. 29:1720-1728.

Towse TF, Childs BT, Sabin SA, Bush EC, Elder CP, Damon BM. (2016). Comparison of muscle BOLD responses to arterial occlusion at 3T and 7TMagnetic Resonance in Medicine 75: 1333-1340.