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Age (Dordr). 2012 Feb;34(1):215-26. doi: 10.1007/s11357-011-9228-2. Epub 2011 Mar 24.

Eccentric contraction-induced injury to type I, IIa, and IIa/IIx muscle fibers of elderly adults.

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Krivickas Muscle Cell Physiology Laboratory, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 125 Nashua Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Muscles of old laboratory rodents experience exaggerated force losses after eccentric contractile activity. We extended this line of inquiry to humans and investigated the influence of fiber myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform content on the injury process. Skinned muscle fiber segments, prepared from vastus lateralis biopsies of elderly men and women (78 ± 2 years, N = 8), were subjected to a standardized eccentric contraction (strain, 0.25 fiber length; velocity, 0.50 unloaded shortening velocity). Injury was assessed by evaluating pre- and post-eccentric peak Ca(2+)-activated force per fiber cross-sectional area (F (max)). Over 90% of the variability in post-eccentric F (max) could be explained by a multiple linear regression model consisting of an MHC-independent slope, where injury was directly related to pre-eccentric F (max), and MHC-dependent y-intercepts, where the susceptibility to injury could be described as type IIa/IIx fibers > type IIa fibers > type I fibers. We previously reported that fiber type susceptibility to the same standardized eccentric protocol was type IIa/IIx > type IIa = type I for vastus lateralis fibers of 25-year-old adults (Choi and Widrick, Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 299:C1409-C1417, 2010). Modeling combined data sets revealed significant age by fiber type interactions, with post-eccentric F (max) deficits greater for type IIa and type IIa/IIx fibers from elderly vs. young subjects at constant pre-eccentric F (max). We conclude that the resistance of the myofilament lattice to mechanical strain has deteriorated for type IIa and type IIa/IIx, but not for type I, vastus lateralis fibers of elderly adults.

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