Body Surface Area Prediction in Normal, Hypermuscular, and Obese Mice

Michael C. Cheung, Paul B. Spalding, Juan C. Gutierrez, Wayne Balkan, Nicholas Namias, Leonidas G. Koniaris, Teresa A. Zimmers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Background: Accurate determination of body surface area (BSA) in experimental animals is essential for modeling effects of burn injury or drug metabolism. Two-dimensional surface area is related to three-dimensional body volume, which in turn can be estimated from body mass. The Meeh equation relates body surface area to the two-thirds power of body mass, through a constant, k, which must be determined empirically by species and size. We found older values of k overestimated BSA in certain mice; thus we determined empirically k for various strains of normal, obese, and hypermuscular mice. Materials and methods: BSA was computed from digitally scanned pelts and nonlinear regression analysis was used to determine the best-fit k. Results: The empirically determined k for C57BL/6J mice of 9.82 was not significantly different from other inbred and outbred mouse strains of normal body composition. However, mean k of the nearly spheroid, obese leprdb/db mice (k = 8.29) was significantly lower than for normals, as were values for dumbbell-shaped, hypermuscular mice with either targeted deletion of the myostatin gene (Mstn) (k = 8.48) or with skeletal muscle specific expression of a dominant negative myostatin receptor (Acvr2b) (k = 8.80). Conclusions: Hypermuscular and obese mice differ substantially from normals in shape and density, resulting in considerably altered k values. This suggests Meeh constants should be determined empirically for animals of altered body composition. Use of these new, improved Meeh constants will allow greater accuracy in experimental models of burn injury and pharmacokinetics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-331
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 15 2009


  • allometry
  • body composition
  • body weights and measure
  • burn
  • genetically modified mice
  • Meeh constant
  • pharmacokinetics
  • skin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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