New research facility focuses on muscle performance and physical function

The Muscle Performance and Physical Function Core (MPPFC) is a newly established research facility within Mayo Clinic's Center for Translational Science Activities (CTSA).

Developed in partnership with Mayo Clinic's Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging and the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the mission of the MPPFC is to provide the necessary expertise and infrastructure to perform valid and reliable measures of muscle performance, physical function and mobility for a broad array of clinical research studies associated with the CTSA and conducted at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Specific aims of the MPPFC

Quantify human performance
The core will objectively and reliably measure fundamental aspects of human performance in conditions of health, aging and disease. Specifically, the core will use state-of-the-art technologies and proven methods to quantify:

  • Skeletal muscle performance
  • Physical function and mobility
  • Habitual physical activity

These services can be conducted in the core laboratory, outpatient clinics, hospitals and community.

The core will provide a focal point for interdisciplinary collaboration (physical medicine and rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapy, physiology, CTSA) in the development, evaluation and application of new and existing instruments to assess muscle impairments, functional limitations and disability in humans.

Additionally, the core will establish collaboration with colleagues in the basic sciences to foster translational research and contribute to the design and execution of such measures in preclinical models.

The core will implement and maintain personnel training and certification for the application of standardized muscle performance and physical function testing protocols and disseminate knowledge gained to applicable clinical departments.

"Rehabilitation professionals have long appreciated the importance of optimizing physical function and mobility in the face of aging and disease," explains MPPFC director Nathan K. LeBrasseur, Ph.D., from the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. "More recently, other disciplines have also adopted functional outcome measures, such as an individual's ability to walk, climb stairs and lift objects, as key determinants of health, independence and quality of life.

"We have developed a core facility to objectively quantify these parameters, in part, to understand both the impact of a disease or an intervention on the structure or function of an organ and how the disease or intervention affects the individual," says Dr. LeBrasseur.

In partnership with Mayo Clinic endocrinologist Sundeep Khosla, M.D., the MPPFC is currently studying longitudinal changes in strength and mobility and how they relate to parameters of bone health in postmenopausal women.

The core has also initiated a project in partnership with the Kogod Center on Aging and investigators in the Department of Anesthesiology to investigate how strength and physical function prior to surgery predict perioperative outcomes such as length of stay, infection and delirium in older individuals.

The MPPFC helps Mayo investigators examining the impact or association of traits (such as genetic variation, clinical characteristics, diseases or behaviors) and interventions (such as drugs, devices, therapies, procedures or behavior modifications) on clinically meaningful metrics of health span.

Measures of muscle performance and physical function have been selected for their stand-alone importance and established relationships with falls, frailty, disability, institutionalization, quality of life and even death.

To foster translational research, Dr. LeBrasseur and the Kogod Center on Aging have developed the Healthspan Assessment Laboratory to execute comparable outcomes in preclinical models.

MPPFC interdisciplinary alliances

The MPPFC has also developed alliances to enable comprehensive assessments of health span. Mayo Clinic-based alliances include:

  • Survey Research Center
  • Energy Balance Facility
  • Body Composition/Bone Density Facility
  • Imaging Core
  • Proteomics Research Center
  • Metabolomics Core

"Interdisciplinary collaboration is critical for the success of any research program," says Dr. LeBrasseur. "This is a truth that Mayo Clinic and its CTSA have pioneered and strongly endorse. We are confident the unique expertise and resources of the MPPFC will benefit a great number of initiatives to improve health."