Populations with obesity are more likely to fall and exhibit balance instability. The reason for this is likely multifactorial, but there is some evidence that sensory function is impaired during obesity. We tested the hypothesis that muscle proprioceptor function is compromised in a mouse model of diet induced obesity. An in vitro muscle-nerve preparation was used to record muscle spindle afferent responses to physiological stretch and sinusoidal vibration. We compared the responses of C57/Bl6 male and female mice on a control diet (10% kcal fat) with those eating a high fat diet (HFD; 60% kcal fat) for 10 weeks (final age 14–15 weeks old). Following HFD feeding, adult mice of both sexes exhibited decreased muscle spindle afferent responses to muscle movement. Muscle spindle afferent firing rates during the plateau phase of stretch were significantly lower in both male and female HFD animals as were two measures of dynamic sensitivity (dynamic peak and dynamic index). Muscle spindle afferents in male mice on a HFD were also significantly less likely to entrain to vibration. Due to the importance of muscle spindle afferents to proprioception and motor control, decreased muscle spindle afferent responsiveness may contribute to balance instability during obesity.
Lubayna Elahi, Krystle Shamai, Adam Abtahie, Adam Cai, Shreejit Padmanabhan, Martina Bremer, and Katherine A. Wilkinson. "Diet induced obesity alters muscle spindle afferent function in adult mice" PLoS ONE (2018). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0196832
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