Open Access Open Badges Research article

Type-selective muscular degeneration promotes infiltrative growth of intramuscular lipoma

Kanji Mori12, Tokuhiro Chano23, Keiji Matsumoto4, Michihito Ishizawa5, Yoshitaka Matsusue1 and Hidetoshi Okabe2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Shiga University of Medical Science, Tsukinowa-cho, Seta, Otsu, Shiga, 520-2192, Japan

2 Department of Clinical Laboratory Medicine, Shiga University of Medical Science, Tsukinowa-cho, Seta, Otsu, Shiga, 520-2192, Japan

3 PRESTO, JST, 4-1-8 Honcho Kawaguchi, Saitama, Japan

4 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Hyogo Adult Disease Center, 13-70, Kitaoji-cho, Akashi, Hyogo, 673-8558, Japan

5 Ishizawa Orthopaedic surgery, 7-2-16, Hon-machi, Toyonaka, Osaka, 560-0021, Japan

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2004, 5:20  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-5-20

Published: 18 June 2004



Intramuscular lipoma is a relatively common benign neoplasm that is occasionally described as an infiltrating lipoma. Typical benign tumors show a clear margin, however, the infiltrative growth pattern of this lipoma mimics that of a malignant tumor. Although its growth has an effect on muscle bundles and it is known to never metastasize, the mechanism of infiltrative growth is not well understood. Previously, little attention has been paid to pathogenic features of muscle fibers around an intramuscular lipoma.


In the present study, we focused on pathologic changes of the surrounding skeletal muscles especially to the degenerative features of involving muscular types, and evaluate the role of type-selective muscular degeneration for the infiltrative growth of intramuscular lipomas. Following a review of the medical records in our institute, 17 lesions containing muscle tissues in their specimens (15 infiltrating lipomas, 2 well-circumscribed lipomas) were analyzed immunohistochemically. The tumor from the most recent case was also subjected to ultrastructural analysis. Two cases of the traumatic muscle damage were also evaluated as the control experiments.


These analyses revealed type-selective muscle involution in 11 of 17 intramuscular lipomas and in 10 of 11 of the infiltrative type, with an involving pattern that resembled that of a neurogenic or myogenic disorder. Immunoreactivity to cathepsin-D, a lysosomal catabolic enzyme, was increased in the involved muscle fibers. Subsarcolemmal vacuoles in the muscle fibers of the peripheral areas were also positive for cathepsin-D, while degenerative findings were not visually apparent in these areas. Ultrastructural analysis revealed degenerative changes in those fibers. Neither positive staining for cathepsin-D nor type-selective atrophy was detected in the sections of traumatic muscle damage.


Our findings suggest that type-selective muscular degeneration and endomysial fatty growth as a result of atrophy may modulate the infiltrating growth characteristic of intramuscular lipoma.