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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1986 Jul;61(1):173-9.

Effect of inactivity and passive stretch on protein turnover in phasic and postural rat muscles.


A state of hypokinesia and hypodynamia has been induced in the hindlimb muscles of the rat (100 g) using a suspension model. The ensuing muscle atrophy was assessed by reference to muscles in fully mobile control animals, which were either fed ad libitum or fed the same lower food intake of the suspended animals. Over a total of 7 days of suspension the slow-twitch postural soleus muscle underwent a much greater atrophy than the fast-twitch phasic extensor digitorum longus. Changes with respect to the position of the suspended foot, and hence muscle length, necessitate caution in comparing the extent of the atrophy between different muscle types. After 3 days of inactivity the atrophy of the soleus muscle was explained by a 21% decrease in the fractional rate of synthesis (measured in vivo) and a 100% increase in the rate of protein breakdown. The reduction in the synthetic rate was associated with a net loss (23%) of RNA and hence muscle ribosomes. In contrast when this inactive soleus muscle was permanently stretched the RNA content (44%) and protein synthetic rate increased (59%) markedly above control values. Although protein breakdown remained elevated in this stretched muscle, the extent of the atrophy in response to hypokinesia and hypodynamia was greatly reduced.

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