CNR - Institute of Neuroscience CNR
Institute of Neuroscience


FES maintains muscle tissue after long term inactivity


Biopsies from normal human muscle (A), thigh muscles of a paraplegic subject 4 years after a severe conus cauda lesion (B) and from the same subject after 7 years of denervation, but following home-based functional electrostimulation (FES) training during the last three years (C).


A new non-invasive method based on CT scan was used to analyze structural changes of human skeletal muscle, to monitor progression and recovery of long-term denervation by FES.

Identification of muscle tissue (red) and connective tissue (blue) in rectus femoris after 4 years of denervation (A), after additional 4 years of electrical stimulation treatment (B), and after 7 years of muscle denervation without FES (C).


  • Boncompagni S, Kern H, Rossini K, Hofer C, Mayr W, Carraro U, Protasi F (2007) Structural differentiation of skeletal muscle fibers in the absence of innervation in humans. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 104:19339-44.
  • Kern H, Boncompagni S, Rossini K, Mayr W, Fanò G, Zanin ME, Podhorska-Okolow M, Protasi F, Carraro U (2004) Long-term denervation in humans causes degeneration of both contractile and excitation-contraction coupling apparatus, which is reversible by functional electrical stimulation (FES): a role for myofiber regeneration? J. Neuropathol. Exp. Neurol. 63:919-31.


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Ugo Carraro

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