Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research
On-line version ISSN 1414-431X
COUTINHO, E.L.; GOMES, A.R.S.; FRANCA, C.N. and SALVINI, T.F.. A new model for the immobilization of the rat hind limb. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 2002, vol.35, n.11, pp. 1329-1332. ISSN 1414-431X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-879X2002001100010.
An alternative device for the immobilization of the hind limb of the rat was developed to study the effects of chronic disuse on the soleus and tibialis anterior muscles, maintained for 3 weeks in the shortening and the stretching positions, respectively. The proposed device is made of steel mesh and cotton materials, and has some advantages when compared to cast or plaster cast: it is cheaper, lighter (12 g or 4% of the body weight of the rat) and the same unit can be easily adjusted and used several times in the same animal or in animals of similar size. Immobilization is also useful to restrain the movements of the hip, knee, and ankle joints. Male rats (291 ± 35 g and aged 14 ± 2 weeks) were used to develop and test the model. The soleus muscle of 18 rats was maintained in a shortened position for 21 consecutive days and lost 19 ± 7% of its length (P = 0.008) and 44 ± 6% of its weight (P = 0.002) compared to the contralateral intact muscle. No difference (P = 0.67) was found in the stretched tibialis anterior of the same hind limb when compared to the contralateral muscle. No ulcer, sore or foot swelling was observed in the animals. Immobilization was effective in producing chronic muscle disuse in the hind limbs of rats and is an acceptable alternative to the traditional methods of immobilization such as cast or plaster cast.
Keywords : Muscle immobilization; Muscle shortening; Muscle stretching; Soleus muscle; Tibialis anterior; Skeletal muscle.