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J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2004 Apr;190(4):321-9. Epub 2004 Feb 17.

Resistance to disuse atrophy in a turtle hindlimb muscle.

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Program in Physical Therapy, Arizona School of Health Sciences, A.T. Still University of Health Sciences, Mesa, AZ 85206, USA.


The purpose of this study was to characterize the changes in a turtle hindlimb muscle (external gastrocnemius) after exposure to three conditions of disuse: immobilization, tenotomy, and spinalization. Histochemical analysis and measurement of muscle fiber cross-sectional area and weighted cross-sectional area were used to assess the potential conversion of muscle fiber types and changes in fiber size. It was found that unlike its counterpart in mammalian endotherms, the external gastrocnemius muscle of the adult turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans, was remarkably resistant to each model of reduced muscle function. It is suggested that such resistance to disuse is due to intrinsic mechanisms that enable heterothermic mammals and ectothermic vertebrates to tolerate an unfavorable climate and food and water shortages by using hypometabolic states.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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