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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1997 Oct;83(4):1062-7.

Corticosteroid effects on isotonic contractile properties of rat diaphragm muscle.

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Department of Pulmonary Diseases, University Hospital Nijmegen, Nijmegen 6500 HB, The Netherlands.


The effects of corticosteroids (CS) on diaphragm muscle (Diam) fiber morphology and contractile properties were evaluated in three groups of rats: controls (Ctl), surgical sham and weight-matched controls (Sham), and CS-treated (6 mg . kg-1 . day-1 prednisolone at 2.5 ml/h for 3 wk). In the CS-treated Diam, there was a selective atrophy of type IIx and IIb fibers, compared with a generalized atrophy of all fibers in the Sham group. Maximum isometric force was reduced by 20% in the CS group compared with both Ctl and Sham. Maximum shortening velocity in the CS Diam was slowed by approximately 20% compared with Ctl and Sham. Peak power output of the CS Diam was only 60% of Ctl and 70% of Sham. Endurance to repeated isotonic contractions improved in the CS-treated Diam compared with Ctl. We conclude that the atrophy of type IIx and IIb fibers in the Diam can only partially account for the CS-induced changes in isotonic contractile properties. Other factors such as reduced myofibrillar density or altered cross-bridge cycling kinetics are also likely to contribute to the effects of CS treatment.

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