[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Counteracting the atrophy of skeletal muscle associated with disuse has significant implications for minimizing the wasting and weakness in plaster casting, joint immobilization, and other forms of limb unloading, with relevance to orthopedics, sports medicine, and plastic and reconstructive surgery. We tested the hypothesis that antibody-directed myostatin inhibition would attenuate the loss of muscle mass and functional capacity in mice during 14 or 21 days of unilateral hindlimb casting. Twelve-week-old C57BL/10 mice were subjected to unilateral hindlimb plaster casting or served as controls. Mice received subcutaneous injections of saline or a mouse chimera of anti-human myostatin antibody (PF-354, 10 mg/kg; n = 6-9) on days 0 and 7 and were tested for muscle function on day 14, or were treated on days 0, 7, and 14 and tested for muscle function on day 21. Hindlimb casting reduced muscle mass, fiber size, and function of isolated soleus and extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscles (P < 0.05). PF-354 attenuated the loss of muscle mass, fiber size, and function with greater effects after 14 days than after 21 days of casting, when wasting and weakness had plateaued (P < 0.05). Antibody-directed myostatin inhibition therefore attenuated the atrophy and loss of functional capacity in muscles from mice subjected to unilateral hindlimb casting with reductions in muscle size and strength being most apparent during the first 14 days of disuse. These findings highlight the therapeutic potential of antibody-directed myostatin inhibition for disuse atrophy especially within the first 2 wk of disuse.