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Correlation between percentage fiber type area and myosin heavy chain content in human skeletal muscle

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Histochemical methods are routinely used to delineate skeletal muscle fiber types. In the present investigation, this qualitative determination of fiber type composition was compared to the electrophoretically determined myosin heavy chain (MHC) content from a large number of human muscle biopsy samples. Biopsies were taken from the vastus lateralis muscle at the beginning and every 2 weeks during 8 weeks of highi-ntensity resistance training from men (n = 13) and woman (n = 8). Muscle was also extracted from nontraining men (n = 7) and women (n = 5) at the same periods. Six muscle fiber types (I, IC, IIAC, IIA, IIAB, and IIB) were determined using basic myofibrillar adenosine triphosphatase histochemistry. Cross-sectional areas were determined for the three major fiber types (I, IIA, and IIB) and used to calculate the percentage area of these types. Electrophoretic techniques were used to separate and quantify the percentage MHC content in these same biopsy samples, and these data were then used to compare with the percentage fiber type area. Correlation analyses suggest a relationship between the histochemically assessed percentage fiber type area and the electrophoretically assessed MHC content in human limb musculature. However, because of possible histochemical misclassification of some fibers (especially in trained muscle) both techniques may be essential in yielding important information about fiber type composition and possible fiber type transformations.

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Correspondence to R. S. Staron.

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Fry, A.C., Allemeier, C.A. & Staron, R.S. Correlation between percentage fiber type area and myosin heavy chain content in human skeletal muscle. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 68, 246–251 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00376773

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Key words

  • Fiber types
  • Myosin heavy chains
  • Resistance training