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Relation between fibre composition and daily duration of spontaneous activity in ankle muscles of the cat.

D. Kernell, E. Hensbergen, A. Lind, O. Eerbeek


This study concerns the relation between use and fibre type composition among limb muscles. The histochemical properties were investigated for ankle muscles from cats that had previously been studied in 24 hr electromyographic (EMG) recordings of daily spontaneous activity. We then reported average daily duty times (i.e. the percentage of total sampling time filled with EMG activity) of 1.9% for extensor digitorum longus (EDL), 2.1 and 4.0% for anterior and posterior sites of tibialis anterior (TA), 6.6 and 9.5% for anterior and posterior sites of peroneus longus (PL), and 13.9% for soleus (SOL). In the present experiments, muscles from which these data had been obtained were sectioned in a cryostat and stained for myofibrillar ATPase. Fibres were classified as type I (presumably slow) or II (presumably fast), the latter fibres being further categorized as IIA, IIB and a minor portion of transitional IIAB fibres. As expected, SOL was 100% type I. Among the muscles of mixed fibre-type composition (mixed muscles), a statistically significant difference in the mean percentages of type I fibres was found between TA or EDL (2.9-6.0%) vs. PL (11.8-14.6%). For TA the percentage of type I fibres was higher in posterior (deep) than in anterior (superficial) sampling regions; for PL no clear antero-posterior difference was found. A significant correlation was obtained between the percentage of type I fibres and the total duration of daily activity recorded from corresponding mixed muscle sites (5 different recording sites in 4 cats, totally 15 cases of successfully combined physiological and histochemical measurements, r = 0.76, P less than 0.001). Similarly, within TA the total duration of daily activity was higher for sites with high (posteriorly) than for those with low (anteriorly) percentages of type I fibres. In conclusion: a coarse-grain relationship was found between fibre type composition and the duration of daily activity among mixed muscles. Possible mechanisms underlying this relationship are discussed.

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