, Volume 73, Issue 4, pp 577–588 | Cite as

Alternative method for quantitative enzyme histochemistry of muscle fibers

Application of photographic densitometry combined with atomic absorption spectrophotometry
  • D. W. Sickles
  • R. E. McLendon
  • Th. H. Rosenquist


The present study examines the use of photographic densitometry combined with atomic absorption spectrophotometry for the quantitation of enzyme activities (SDH and ATPase) in fresh frozen sections of rat tibialis anterior muscles. The technique eliminates some difficulties which are inherent in other methods. The reliability of the technique was found to be in the 98% range; the results were precise for all samples studied. The use of SDH to separate muscle fibers into “types” was found to be totally inaccurate since a full spectrum of activities was observed. ATPase activities could separate easily into two groups, but a continuum of ATPase activities was observed in the fast-twitch fibers. The simultaneous use of both enzymes was capable of separating the FG, FOG and SO fibers; however, variation within a single type was considerable and a great deal of information was lost when using any classification system. The continuum of SDH activities indicates the motor units are arranged as a spectrum of fatigue-resistant contractile units. The range of ATPase activities observed is comparable to ranges of motor unit contraction times emphasizing the importance of this enzyme in the regulation of contraction speed.


Muscle Fiber ATPase Activity Motor Unit Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry Tibialis Anterior Muscle 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. W. Sickles
    • 1
  • R. E. McLendon
    • 1
  • Th. H. Rosenquist
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyMedical College of GeorgiaAugustaUSA

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