Dr. Lieber’s work is characterized by its interdisciplinary nature—an approach that is relevant to those who study biomechanics and Orthopaedic Surgery. He has published over 250 articles in journals ranging from the very basic such as The Biophysical Journal and The Journal of Cell Biology to those more applied such as The Journal of Hand Surgery and Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. He has also pioneered studies of human muscle during hand surgery and in conditions of muscle contracture due to cerebral palsy.
Skeletal muscle is a highly plastic tissue, responding both to level of use and amount of neural input. After cerebral palsy (CP) altered neural input can result in muscle contractures. We have studied the mechanics and biology of muscle from children with wrist flexion contractures secondary to CP. Dramatic architectural changes are observed in these children whereby sarcomere lengths are dramatically altered relative to patients without upper motor neuron lesions. This suggests dramatic alterations in the regulation of muscle growth in these children. Biomechanical studies of isolated single muscle cells reveal an increased passive modulus and decreased resting sarcomere length suggesting alterations in the cellular cytoskeleton. Gene expression profiling reveals a number of “conflicting” biological pathways in spastic muscle. These transcriptional adaptations are not characteristic of muscle adaptations observed in Duchenne muscular dystrophy or limb immobilization. Superimposed upon the dramatic biological and structural adaptations is a loss in the number of satellite cells that are located throughout the muscle. Even the remaining satellite cells have epigenetic changes that can dramatically influence our ability to rehabilitate these muscles. Recently, we have shown that several anti-cancer drugs are able to reverse these epigenetic changes, thus “rescuing” the satellite cells and promoting myogenesis. Taken together, these results support the notion that, while contracture formation is multifactorial and neural in origin, significant structural alterations in muscle also occur.
James Spudich, Douglass M. and Nola Leishman Professor of Cardiovascular Disease, Stanford University
Pre-Seminar November 12th, 2019 at 4:00 PM in Clark S361