Comparison of rotator cuff muscle architecture between humans and other selected vertebrate species

Margie A. Mathewson, Alan Kwan, Carolyn M. Eng, Richard L. Lieber, Samuel R. Ward*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


In this study, we compare rotator cuff muscle architecture of typically used animal models with that of humans and quantify the scaling relationships of these muscles across mammals. The four muscles that correspond to the human rotator cuff - supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor - of 10 commonly studied animals were excised and subjected to a series of comparative measurements. When body mass among animals was regressed against physiological cross-sectional area, muscle mass and normalized fiber length, the confidence intervals suggested geometric scaling but did not exclude other scaling relationships. Based on the architectural difference index (ADI), a combined measure of fiber length-to-moment arm ratio, fiber length-to-muscle length ratio and the fraction of the total rotator cuff physiological cross-sectional area contributed by each muscle, chimpanzees were found to be the most similar to humans (ADI=2.15), followed closely by capuchins (ADI=2.16). Interestingly, of the eight non-primates studied, smaller mammals such as mice, rats and dogs were more similar to humans in architectural parameters compared with larger mammals such as sheep, pigs or cows. The force production versus velocity trade-off (indicated by fiber length-to-moment arm ratio) and the excursion ability (indicated by fiber length-to-muscle length ratio) of humans were also most similar to those of primates, followed by the small mammals. Overall, primates provide the best architectural representation of human muscle architecture. However, based on the muscle architectural parameters of non-primates, smaller rather than larger mammals may be better models for studying muscles related to the human rotator cuff.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-273
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Architecture
  • Muscle
  • Rotator cuff

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology


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