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Am J Physiol. 1983 Aug;245(2):H368-74.

Capillarity and fiber types in the cremaster muscle of rat and hamster.


We determined muscle fiber type and capillarity in cremaster muscle samples from rats and hamsters of different ages. Histochemical estimation of oxidative capacity was made from the activity of either nicotinamide dinucleotide tetrazolium reductase (NADH-TR) or succinic dehydrogenase (SDH), and fibers were termed fast or slow from myofibrillar ATPase activity. Fibers were classified as type I (low ATPase, high NADH-TR/SDH), type IIa (high ATPase, high SDH/NADH-TR), type IIb (high ATPase, low SDH/NADH-TR), or type IIc (no acid reversal of ATPase, high NADH-TR). Type IIb fibers accounted for 60-80% of the muscle area in both species at all ages. The principal change with maturation was muscle fiber hypertrophy. Mean cross-sectional fiber area increased from 488 +/- 70 (SE) and 453 +/- 19 micron2 in young hamsters and rats, respectively, to 1,255 +/- 99 and 1,540 +/- 101 micron2 in adults. Capillary density (no. of capillaries/mm2 tissue) paralleled fiber hypertrophy; it decreased significantly with maturation from 684 +/- 60 (SE) to 228 +/- 26/mm2 in hamsters and from 341 +/- 15 to 213 +/- 15/mm2 in rats. In vitro estimates of capillary density are compared with previously obtained in vivo data (31), and sources of error are identified. We conclude that reported differences in microvascular function in the cremaster muscle in vivo during maturation or between species cannot be ascribed to changes in muscle composition.

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