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The MUSE Study

Muscle Signaling and Estrogen

The MUSE study will examine the effects of the female sex hormone estrogen on changes in muscle due to lack of use. The goal of this research study is to find out if estrogen helps protect against muscle loss when the muscle is used very little. Some studies have shown that estrogen protects against muscle damage when overworked, but less is known about how estrogen works to protect against muscle loss during immobilization.

Women in the MUSE study will be asked to wear a knee brace on the left leg for 9 days to immobilize the leg. Women will also receive daily injections of a hormone-suppressing drug for 13 days. This drug will cause blood sex hormone levels to decrease to postmenopausal levels. At the same time, participants will be randomly assigned to wear either an estrogen or a placebo (inactive substance) skin patch for 13 days. Neither the women in the study nor the study team will know if the patch is estrogen or placebo. Three muscle biopsies will be performed; one prior to immobilization, one directly following immobilization, and one 4 days after the immobilization period. This will allow us to determine the effect that estrogen has on muscle tissue following a period of disuse.

Qualifications to volunteer:

  • Healthy women between the age of 21-40 years
  • Regular menstrual cycles
  • No current use of hormonal contraceptives
  • Physically active but not a competitive athlete
  • Willing to wear a knee brace and use crutches for 9 days

Benefits for study volunteers include:

  • Measurement of body composition and bone density
  • Fitness testing
  • Compensation will be provided for your time

The Principal Investigator for the MUSE study is Catherine Jankowski, PhD. For more information please contact Ellie Gibbons at 720-848-6408 or This study is funded by the University of Colorado Department of Medicine and has been approved by the Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board (protocol # 07-0379)