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Research Group Dr. A-M. Liphardt

Musculoskeletal Function and Mechanobiology

Head: Dr. sports science Anna-Maria Liphardt

The working group is concerned with the relationship between musculoskeletal function and skeletal morphology in the course of rheumatic-inflammatory diseases.

Tissues of the musculoskeletal system (e.g. bones, cartilage, muscles and tendons) are characterized by different tissue properties and a high adaptability. Stress caused by mechanical stimuli plays an essential role in the regulatory circuits of tissue adaptation. Morphological changes in the musculoskeletal system manifest themselves early in altered function, which in turn affects tissue health in the long term. Conversely, changes in tissue properties - triggered by pathogenic processes - can lead to changes in function.

The goal of the research group is to explore how rheumatic inflammatory diseases alter musculoskeletal function and how this, in turn, may affect disease progression. One focus is the identification of functional and biochemical biomarkers for changes in disease activity and patient musculoskeletal homeostasis.

In addition, we are using immobilization models (bed rest and microgravity) to investigate the effect of extreme reduction of mechanical loading, on the musculoskeletal system. These models allow us to study the effect of immobilization in great detail and without the added effect of disease or injury.

In our projects, we use a combination of imaging techniques (e.g., magnetic resonance imaging, high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT), biochemical parameters (blood and urine concentrations of biological markers), and functional parameters (e.g., muscular performance, physical activity, movement analysis). A separate issue here is the optimization of the acquisition of functional parameters through the use of digital applications and modern sensor technology.

Our research projects are characterized by integrative questions, which we work on in multidisciplinary teams consisting of internal and external research partners.