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Fibre type regionalisation in lower hindlimb muscles of rabbit, rat and mouse: a comparative study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 January 2002

Department of Medical Physiology, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Department of Medical Physiology, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
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The topographical distribution of different fibre types in muscles of the lower hindlimb in rabbits and mice was quantitatively determined. The results were compared to those previously obtained, using the same new quantification methods, in homologous muscles of the rat. Type I fibres (‘slow’) were identified using myofibrillar ATPase histochemistry and mapped out at the mid proximo-distal level for 11 ‘fast’ muscles in the rabbit and 7 ‘fast’ muscles in the mouse. For the slow soleus muscle the procedure was undertaken for the type II fibres. Furthermore, for 5 of the ‘fast’ muscles from each animal species (extensor digitorum longus; flexor digitorum and hallucis longus; gastrocnemius medialis; peroneus longus; tibialis anterior), several more proximal and distal cross-sectional levels were also analysed. All the investigated ‘fast’ muscles showed a significant degree of topographical eccentricity in the midlevel distribution of type I fibres. For most muscles, the direction of this ‘vector regionalisation’ of type I fibres was similar between the three animal species. For homologous muscles, the degree of vector regionalisation was significantly different: mouse > rat > rabbit. The relative area of the region containing the type I fibres, inversely related to the degree of ‘area regionalisation’, was also significantly different: mouse < rat < rabbit. Also within each animal species, muscles with a marked degree of vector regionalisation tended to show a marked area regionalisation. Proximo-distal differences in type I fibre density were observed in all the three species of animals; also these patterns showed marked inter-species differences. The findings demonstrate the general occurrence of, and systematic relationships between, different aspects of type I fibre regionalisation. The observed interspecies differences suggest that the expression of this phenomenon is adapted to differing functional needs.

Research Article
© Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland 2001

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