Restoration of Fast Muscle Characteristics Following Cessation of Chronic Stimulation: Physiological, Histochemical and Metabolic Changes during Slow-To-Fast Transformation
Implantable electronic stimulators were used to subject fast-twitch tibialis anterior and extensor digitorum longus muscles of adult rabbits to a chronically increased level of use. Stimulation was discontinued after 6 weeks and physiological, histochemical and biochemical properties of the muscles were examined at intervals over the ensuing 20 weeks. Previous work had shown that 6 weeks of stimulation was sufficient to bring about a substantial transformation of type in fast-twitch muscles, which then exhibited much of the character of muscles of the slow-twitch type. The present experiments showed that these stimulation-induced changes were completely reversible. The time-course of reversion was such that the muscles had recovered their original fast properties by about 12 weeks after the cessation of stimulation. The contractile characteristics and post-tetanic potentiation typical of fast muscle returned rapidly, in only 3-4 weeks, and over the same period the proportion of histochemical type 1 fibres declined from about 70% to control levels. Changes in fatigue-resistance, capillary density and enzyme activity followed a more prolonged time-course; in particular, the decline in the activity of enzymes of oxidative metabolism corresponded closely to that already established for the mitochondrial volume fraction. Reacquisition of fast properties was not accompanied by any changes in specific force-generating capacity. Observations from these experiments and from a related morphological study fit into a `first-in, last-out' pattern for the response to stimulation and recovery. The slow-to-fast reversion that takes place during the recovery period provides a further opportunity for testing causal associations within the events underlying type transformation. It has important consequences for therapeutic applications that make use of the fatigue-resistant character of chronically stimulated muscle.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B
- Pub Date:
- January 1989