Fiber-type susceptibility to eccentric contraction-induced damage of hindlimb-unloaded rat AL muscles

K. Vijayan, J. L. Thompson, K. M. Norenberg, R. H. Fitts, D. A. Riley


Slow oxidative (SO) fibers of the adductor longus (AL) were predominantly damaged during voluntary reloading of hindlimb unloaded (HU) rats and appeared explainable by preferential SO fiber recruitment. The present study assessed damage after eliminating the variable of voluntary recruitment by tetanically activating all fibers in situ through the motor nerve while applying eccentric (lengthening) or isometric contractions. Muscles were aldehyde fixed and resin embedded, and semithin sections were cut. Sarcomere lesions were quantified in toluidine blue-stained sections. Fibers were typed in serial sections immunostained with antifast myosin and antitotal myosin (which highlights slow fibers). Both isometric and eccentric paradigms caused fatigue. Lesions occurred only in eccentrically contracted control and HU muscles. Fatigue did not cause lesions. HU increased damage because lesioned- fiber percentages within fiber types and lesion sizes were greater than control. Fast oxidative glycolytic (FOG) fibers were predominantly damaged. In no case did damaged SO fibers predominate. Thus, when FOG, SO, and hybrid fibers are actively lengthened in chronically unloaded muscle, FOG fibers are intrinsically more susceptible to damage than SO fibers. Damaged hybrid-fiber proportions ranged between these extremes.

  • skeletal muscle
  • missing A-band lesions
  • motor unit recruitment
  • hybrid fibers
  • reloading
  • adductor longus


  • This research was supported by NASA grant NAG2–956 and National Institute of Health Grant U01-NS-33472 (to D. A. Riley) and by NASA Grant NAGW-4376 (to R. H. Fitts).

  • Address for reprint requests and other correspondence: D. A. Riley, Dept. of Cell Biology, Neurobiology, and Anatomy, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53226 (E-mail: dariley{at}

  • The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. The article must therefore be hereby marked “advertisement” in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

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