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J Neurobiol. 1992 Feb;23(1):61-70.

Fiber-type proportions in mammalian soleus muscle during postnatal development.

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Department of Physiology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322.


We analyzed the fiber-type composition of the soleus muscle in rats and mice to determine whether the adult proportion of fiber types is fixed soon after birth or whether it changes during postnatal maturation. We examined muscles from animals varying in age from 1 week to 1 year using monoclonal antibodies that distinguish between fast and slow isoforms of myosin heavy chains. In cross sections of unfixed muscle containing profiles of all myofibers in the muscle, we counted the fibers that stained with antibodies to fast myosin, and in adjacent sections, those that stained positive with an antibody to slow myosin. We also counted the total number of fibers in each section. Rat soleus contained about 2500 myofibers, and mouse about 1000 at all ages studied, suggesting that myogenesis ceases in soleus by 1 week after birth or sooner. In mouse soleus, the relative proportions of fibers staining positive with fast and slow myosin antibodies were similar at all ages studied, about 60%-70% being fast and 30%-40% slow. In rat soleus, however, the proportions of fast antibody-positive and slow antibody-positive fibers changed dramatically during postnatal maturation. At 1 week after birth, about 50% of rat soleus fibers stained with fast myosin antibodies, whereas between 1 and 2 months this value fell to about 10%. In mouse, about 10% of fibers at 1 week, but none at 1 year, reacted with both fast and slow antibodies, whereas in rat, fewer than 3% bound both antibodies to a significant degree at 1 week. It is puzzling why, in rat soleus, the majority of apparently fast fibers present at 1 week is converted to a slow phenotype, whereas in mouse soleus the predominant change appears to be the suppression of fast myosin expression in a subset of fibers that expresses both myosin types at 1 week. It is possible that this may be related to differences in size and the amount of body growth between these two species.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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