Skeletal Muscle Function in Young Patients With Cystic Fibrosis

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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  • 1 Hannover Medical School
  • | 2 Leibniz University Hannover
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Defects in the gene encoding the cystic fibrosis (CF) transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) cause CF. Absence of the CFTR may result in skeletal muscle dysfunction. Here, we tested skeletal muscle function in male adolescent patients with CF.


Ten CF and 10 control participants (age: 16.8 ± 0.6 years) performed 7 repetitive sets of maximum voluntary contractions (MVCs) and underwent an isometric fatigue test of the knee extensors. Electromyography (EMG) activity was recorded from the m. vastus lateralis (VL) and m. vastus medialis (VM).


In CF, the MVC torque was lower and correlated with the predicted forced expiratory volume in one second (r = .73, p = .012, n = 10). The M-wave in the VL was shorter in CF than in controls (18.6 ± 0.5 vs. 20.3 ± 0.5 ms, p < .028). In the VM, both the M-wave (4.96 ± 0.61 vs. 7.97 ± 0.60 mV, p = .001) and the EMG (0.29 ± 0.04 vs. 0.47 ± 0.04 mV, p = .004) amplitudes were smaller in CF.


The differences in the VL and VM EMG signals between the groups indicate that the lower MVC torque in CF did not result from the direct impact of a CFTR defect on the sarcolemmal excitability; the differences more likely resulted from the less developed musculature in the patients with CF.

Stein, Pacht, Kaeding, Kuck, Wittke and Shushakov are with the Hannover Medical School, Institute of Sports Medicine, Hannover, Germany. Junge is with the Hannover Medical School, Pediatric Pulmology and Neonatology, Children’s Hospital, Hannover, Germany. Maassen is with the Leibniz University Hannover, Institute of Sports Science, Hannover, Germany.

Address author correspondence to Lothar Stein at