Pflügers Archiv - European Journal of Physiology

, Volume 460, Issue 5, pp 863–873 | Cite as

Changes in contractile properties of skinned single rat soleus and diaphragm fibres after chronic hypoxia

  • Hans Degens
  • Alessandra Bosutti
  • Sally F. Gilliver
  • Mark Slevin
  • Arno van Heijst
  • Rob C. I. Wüst
Muscle physiology


Hypoxia may be one of the factors underlying muscle dysfunction during ageing and chronic lung and heart failure. Here we tested the hypothesis that chronic hypoxia per se affects contractile properties of single fibres of the soleus and diaphragm muscle. To do this, the force–velocity relationship, rate of force redevelopment and calcium sensitivity of single skinned fibres from normoxic rats and rats exposed to 4 weeks of hypobaric hypoxia (410 mmHg) were investigated. The reduction in maximal force (P 0) after hypoxia (p = 0.031) was more pronounced in type IIa than type I fibres and was mainly attributable to a reduction in fibre cross-sectional area (p = 0.044). In type IIa fibres this was aggravated by a reduction in specific tension (p = 0.001). The maximal velocity of shortening (V max) and shape of the force velocity relation (a/P 0), however, did not differ between normoxic and hypoxic muscle fibres and the reduction in maximal power of hypoxic fibres (p = 0.012) was mainly due to a reduction in P 0. In conclusion, chronic hypoxia causes muscle fibre dysfunction which is not only due to a loss of muscle mass, but also to a diminished force generating capacity of the remaining contractile material. These effects are similar in the soleus and diaphragm muscle, but more pronounced in type IIa than I fibres.


Specific tension force–velocity Skeletal muscle power 



The authors appreciate the help from Remco Haasdijk and Jos Evers for the care of the animals in the hypoxic chamber and assistance with surgery.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Degens
    • 1
  • Alessandra Bosutti
    • 2
  • Sally F. Gilliver
    • 1
  • Mark Slevin
    • 2
  • Arno van Heijst
    • 3
  • Rob C. I. Wüst
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute for Biomedical Research into Human Movement and HealthManchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesManchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK
  3. 3.Radboud University Nijmegen Medical CentreNijmegenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Institute of Membrane and Systems BiologyUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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