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Dynamic DTI (dDTI) shows differing temporal activation patterns in post-exercise skeletal muscles



To assess post-exercise recovery of human calf muscles using dynamic diffusion tensor imaging (dDTI).

Materials and methods

DTI data (6 directions, b = 0 and 400 s/mm2) were acquired every 35 s from seven healthy men using a 3T MRI, prior to (4 volumes) and immediately following exercise (13 volumes, ~7.5 min). Exercise consisted of 5-min in-bore repetitive dorsiflexion-eversion foot motion with 0.78 kg resistance. Diffusion tensors calculated at each time point produced maps of mean diffusivity (MD), fractional anisotropy (FA), radial diffusivity (RD), and signal at b = 0 s/mm2 (S0). Region-of-interest (ROI) analysis was performed on five calf muscles: tibialis anterior (ATIB), extensor digitorum longus (EDL) peroneus longus (PER), soleus (SOL), and lateral gastrocnemius (LG).


Active muscles (ATIB, EDL, PER) showed significantly elevated initial MD post-exercise, while predicted inactive muscles (SOL, LG) did not (p < 0.0001). The EDL showed a greater initial increase in MD (1.90 × 10−4mm2/s) than ATIB (1.03 × 10−4mm2/s) or PER (8.79 × 10−5 mm2/s) (p = 7.40 × 10−4), and remained significantly elevated across more time points than ATIB or PER. Significant increases were observed in post-exercise EDL S0 relative to other muscles across the majority of time points (p < 0.01 to p < 0.001).


dDTI can be used to differentiate exercise-induced changes between muscles. These differences are suggested to be related to differences in fiber composition.

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Funding was provided to CR in the form of a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada CGS-D PhD scholarship. The research was funded through an NSERC Discovery grant to MDN.

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Correspondence to Michael D. Noseworthy.

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Conflict of interest

No author has any potential conflict of interest with respect to the work described and performed in this current manuscript. Dr. Michael Noseworthy has received a one-time lecture honorarium from GE Healthcare (Canada) for two 50-min lectures delivered in September 2015 to MRI technologists. These lectures were not in any way related to the current work.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Rockel, C., Akbari, A., Kumbhare, D.A. et al. Dynamic DTI (dDTI) shows differing temporal activation patterns in post-exercise skeletal muscles. Magn Reson Mater Phy 30, 127–138 (2017).

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  • DTI
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Exercise
  • Recovery
  • Time course
  • Human