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Biogerontology. 2002;3(1-2):25-7.

Age-related atrophy of rat soleus muscle is accompanied by changes in fibre type composition, bioenergy decline and mtDNA rearrangements.

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  • 1Centre for Molecular Biology and Medicine, Epworth Medical Centre, Richmond, VIC, Australia.


A variety of techniques have been applied to investigate the interrelationship between age-related atrophy of rat soleus muscle and other signs of muscle aging, such as changes in muscle fibre type composition, decrease in bioenergy capacity and accumulation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) arrangements. Age-related atrophy of rat soleus muscle was shown to start at the age of about 28 months. It was accompanied by a decrease in the number of slow twitch muscle fibres (type I) and an increase in the proportion of muscle fibres co-expressing slow and fast myosins (type Ic and IIc fibres). Bioenergy capacity of the soleus muscle, assessed by the level of measurable cytochrome c oxidase (COX) activity, was found to be decreased both in the middle age and old rats compared to the young animals. Muscle atrophy was also accompanied by a decrease in the amount of full-length mitochondrial DNA (FL-mtDNA) amplifiable by the extra-long PCR (XL-PCR) and the increase in the number of mtDNA deletions. The results of the study show that the decline in the bioenergy capacity of the rat soleus occurs by the middle age. It is followed by the onset of the age-related muscle atrophy that is accompanied by both fibre type changes and functional mtDNA degradation.

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