Structural and metabolic properties of rat muscle exposed to weightlessness aboard Cosmos 1887

  • D. Desplanches
  • M. H. Mayet
  • E. I. Ilyina-Kakueva
  • J. Frutoso
  • R. Flandrois


Male Wistar rats were subjected to 12.5 days of weightlessness aboard Cosmos 1887. Histomorphometric and biochemical analyses were investigated in soleus (SOL), plantaris (PL) and extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscles of flight rats (group F) and compared with data from two groups of terrestrial controls: one group living free in a vivarium (group V) and another subjected to a flight simulation except for the state of weightlessness (group S). Relative to groups V and S, no alteration in the percentage distribution of fibres had occurred in SOL, PL or EDL, after the flight. In SOL muscles from group F animals, cross-sectional areas of all fibre types were reduced to a greater extent (− 40%) than capillary to fibre ratio (−24%) leading to a higher capillary density (+33%) than in V and S groups. In PL, type I, IIA and IIB fibre cross-sectional areas were less decreased (-25%). In EDL, only fast-twitch fibre cross-sectional areas showed an average decrease of 30%. Capillary per fibre ratio was reduced by 15% and 28% respectively in PT and EDL muscles from group F rats compared to control groups V and S. Citrate synthase and 3-hydroxyacyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase activities remained unchanged in SOL, PL and EDL following spaceflight. These findings indicate greater atrophy and functional alterations (capillarity) compared to those observed after 7 days of microgravity on Cosmos 1667.

Key words

Weightlessness Histochemistry Capillaries Enzyme activities 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andersen P, Henriksson J (1977) Capillary supply of the quadriceps femoris muscle of man: adaptative response to exercise. J Physiol (Lond) 270:677–690Google Scholar
  2. Baldwin KM, Herrick RE, Ilyina-Kakueva E, Oganov VS (1990) Effects of zero gravity on myofibril content and isomyosin distribution in rodent skeletal muscle. FASEB J 4:79–83Google Scholar
  3. Desplanches D, Mayet MH, Sempore B, Flandrois R (1987) Structural and functional responses to prolonged hindlimb suspension in rat muscle. J Appl Physiol 63:558–563Google Scholar
  4. Desplanches D, Mayet MH, Ilyina-Kakueva EI, Sempore B, Flandrois R (1990) Skeletal muscle adaptation in rats flown on COSMOS 1667. J Appl Physiol 68:48–52Google Scholar
  5. Fitts RH, Metzger JM, Riley DA, Unsworth BR (1986) Models of disuse: a comparison of hindlimb suspension and immobilization. J Appl Physiol 60:1946–1953Google Scholar
  6. Fitts RH, Brimmer CJ, Heywood-Cooksey A, Timmerman RJ (1989) Single muscle fiber enzyme shifts with hindlimb suspension and immobilization. Am J Physiol 256:C1082–1091Google Scholar
  7. Flynn DE, Max SR (1985) Effects of suspension hypokinesia/hypodynamia on rat skeletal muscle. Aviat Space Environ Med 56:1065–1069Google Scholar
  8. Gardetto PR, Schluter JM, Fitts RH (1989) Contractile function of single muscle fibers after hindlimb suspension. J Appl Physiol 66:2739–2749Google Scholar
  9. Grandmontagne M, Vaage O, Kopke Vollestad N, Hermansen L (1982) Confrontation de méthodes histochimiques et d'immunofluorescence pour le typage des fibres du muscle squelettique de rat (abstract). J Physiol (Paris) 78:14AGoogle Scholar
  10. Hauschka EO, Roy RR, Edgerton VR (1987) Size and metabolic properties of single muscle fibers in rat soleus after hindlimb suspension. J Appl Physiol 62:2338–2347Google Scholar
  11. Hermansen L, Vollestad NK, Staff PH, Daljord OA, Gronnerod O (1983) The effect of immobilization and training on strength and composition of human skeletal muscle. Physiol Spatial 255–266Google Scholar
  12. Ilyin EA (1983) Investigations on biosatellites of the COSMOS series. Aviat Space Environ Med 54 [Suppl 1]: S9-S15Google Scholar
  13. Ilyina-Kakueva EI, Portugalov W, Krivenkova NP (1976) Space flight effects on the skeletal muscles of rats. Aviat Space Environ Med 47:700–703Google Scholar
  14. Kazarian VA, Rapoport EA, Goncharova LA, Balycheva SI (1977) Effects of prolonged weightlessness on protein metabolism in rat red and white skeletal muscles. Kosm Biol Aviakosm Med 11:19–23Google Scholar
  15. Lowry OH, Passoneau JV (1973) A flexible system of enzymatic analysis. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Manchester JK, Chi NMY, Norris B, Ferrier B, Krasnov I, Nemeth PM, McDougall DB Jr, Lowry OH (1990) Effect of microgravity on metabolic enzymes of individual muscle fibers. FASEB J 4:55–63Google Scholar
  17. Martin TP, Edgerton VR, Grindeland RE (1988) Influence of spaceflight on rat skeletal muscle. J Appl Physiol 65:2318–2325Google Scholar
  18. Miu B, Martin TP, Roy RR, Oganov V, Ilyina-Kakueva E, Marini JF, Leger JJ, Bodine-Fowler SC, Edgerton VR (1990) Metabolic and morphologic properties of single muscle fibers in the rat after spaceflight, Cosmos 1887. FASEB J 4:64–72Google Scholar
  19. Musacchia XJ, Steffen JM, Fell RD, Dombrowski MJ (1988) Comparative morphometry of fibers and capillaries in soleus following weightlessness (SL-3) and suspension. Physiologist 31:528–829Google Scholar
  20. Riley DA, Ellis S, Slocum GR, Satyanarayana T, Bain JLW, Sedlak FR (1987) Hypogravity-induced atrophy of rat soleus and extensor digitorum longus muscles. Muscle Nerve 10:560–568Google Scholar
  21. Riley DA, Ilyina-Kakueva EI, Ellis S, Bain JLW, Slocum GR, Sedlak FR (1990) Skeletal muscle fiber, nerve, and blood vessel breakdown in space-flown rats. FASEB J 4:84–91Google Scholar
  22. Srere PA (1969) Citrate synthase. Methods Enzymol 13:3–5Google Scholar
  23. Takacs O, Rapcsak M, Szoor A, Oganov VS, Szilagyi T, Oganesyan SS, Guba F (1983) Effect of weightlessness on myofibrillar proteins of rat skeletal muscles with different functions in experiment of Biosatellite “COSMOS 1129”. Acta Physiol Hung 62:228–233Google Scholar
  24. Templeton GH, Padalino M, Manton J, Glasberg M, Silver CJ, Silver P, Demartino G, Leconey T, Klug G, Hagler H, Sutko JL (1984) Influence of suspension hypokinesia on rat soleus muscle. J Appl Physiol Respir Environ Exerc Physiol 56:278–286Google Scholar
  25. Templeton GH, Sweeney HL, Timson BF, Padalino M, Dudenhoeffer GA (1988) Changes in fiber composition of soleus muscle during rat hindlimb suspension. J Appl Physiol 65:1191–1195Google Scholar
  26. Thomason DB, Herrick RE, Surdyka D, Baldwin KM (1987) Time course of soleus muscle myosin expression during hindlimb suspension and recovery. J Appl Physiol 63:130–137Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Desplanches
    • 1
  • M. H. Mayet
    • 1
  • E. I. Ilyina-Kakueva
    • 2
  • J. Frutoso
    • 1
  • R. Flandrois
    • 1
  1. 1.Unite Associée Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 1341, Laboratoire de Physiologie, Faculté de Médecine Lyon Grange-BlancheUniversité Claude Bernard LyonLyon Cedex 08France
  2. 2.Institute of Biomedical ProblemsMoscowUSSR

Personalised recommendations