Center for Child Development, Exercise and Physical Literacy, Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, University Medical Center Utrecht Brain Center, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Faculty of Behavioral and Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Correspondence to: B. Bartels, Center for Child Development, Exercise and Physical Literacy, Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital, University Medical Center Utrecht, PO Box 85090, KB 02.056.0, 3508 AB, Utrecht, The Netherlands. Tel.: +31887554030; E-mail: [email protected].
Abstract: Background:Exercise intolerance is an important impairment in patients with SMA, but little is known about the mechanisms underlying this symptom. Objective:To investigate if reduced motor unit and capillary recruitment capacity in patients with SMA contribute to exercise intolerance. Methods:Adolescent and adult patients with SMA types 3 and 4 (n = 15) and age- and gender matched controls (n = 15) performed a maximal upper body exercise test. We applied respiratory gas analyses, non-invasive surface electromyography (sEMG) and continuous wave near-infrared spectroscopy (CW-NIRS) to study oxygen consumption, arm muscle motor unit- and capillary recruitment, respectively. Results:Maximal exercise duration was twofold lower (p < 0.001) and work of breathing and ventilation was 1.6- and 1.8-fold higher (p < 0.05) in patients compared to controls, respectively. Regarding motor unit recruitment, we found higher normalized RMS amplitude onset values of sEMG signals from all muscles and the increase in normalized RMS amplitudes was similar in the m. triceps brachii, m. brachioradialis and m. flexor digitorum in SMA compared to controls. Median frequency, onset values were similar in patients and controls. We found a similar decrease in median frequencies of sEMG recordings from the m. biceps brachii, a diminished decrease from the m. brachioradialis and m. flexor digitorum, but a larger decrease from the m. triceps brachii. With respect to capillary recruitment, CW-NIRS recordings in m. biceps brachii revealed dynamics that were both qualitatively and quantitatively similar in patients and controls. Conclusion:We found no evidence for the contribution of motor unit and capillary recruitment capacity of the upper arm muscles in adolescent and adult patients with SMA types 3 and 4 as primary limiting factors to premature fatigue during execution of a maximal arm-cycling task.
Keywords: Arm-cycling, spinal muscular atrophy, surface electromyography, near infrared spectroscopy, respiratory gas exchange, motor unit, capillaries, fatigability