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Musculoskeletal Geometry, Muscle Architecture and Functional Specialisations of the Mouse Hindlimb

Charles, J P; Cappellari, O; Spence, A J; Hutchinson, J R; Wells, D J


J P Charles

O Cappellari

A J Spence

J R Hutchinson

D J Wells


Mice are one of the most commonly used laboratory animals, with an extensive array of disease models in existence, including for many neuromuscular diseases. The hindlimb is of particular interest due to several close muscle analogues/homologues to humans and other species. A detailed anatomical study describing the adult morphology is lacking, however. This study describes in detail the musculoskeletal geometry and skeletal muscle architecture of the mouse hindlimb and pelvis, determining the extent to which the muscles are adapted for their function, as inferred from their architecture. Using I2KI enhanced microCT scanning and digital segmentation, it was possible to identify 39 distinct muscles of the hindlimb and pelvis belonging to nine functional groups. The architecture of each of these muscles was determined through microdissections, revealing strong architectural specialisations between the functional groups. The hip extensors and hip adductors showed significantly stronger adaptations towards high contraction velocities and joint control relative to the distal functional groups, which exhibited larger physiological cross sectional areas and longer tendons, adaptations for high force output and elastic energy savings. These results suggest that a proximo-distal gradient in muscle architecture exists in the mouse hindlimb. Such a gradient has been purported to function in aiding locomotor stability and efficiency. The data presented here will be especially valuable to any research with a focus on the architecture or gross anatomy of the mouse hindlimb and pelvis musculature, but also of use to anyone interested in the functional significance of muscle design in relation to quadrupedal locomotion.


Charles, J. P., Cappellari, O., Spence, A. J., Hutchinson, J. R., & Wells, D. J. (2016). Musculoskeletal Geometry, Muscle Architecture and Functional Specialisations of the Mouse Hindlimb. PLoS ONE, 11(4),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 6, 2016
Publication Date Apr 26, 2016
Deposit Date Jun 8, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jun 8, 2016
Journal PLoS One
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 4
Public URL


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