The effect of tenotomy and immobilization on muscle spindles and tendon organs of the rat calf muscles

A histochemical and morphometrical study


The morphological and histochemical alterations in the muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs of tenotomized or immobilized calf muscles of rats (m. soleus, m. gastrocnemius) were studied in 54 animals. The intact contralateral feet served as controls. There was no change in the number of mechanoreceptors in either the tenotomized or the immobilized muscles. The diameter of the intrafusal fibers was increased somewhat after 1 week, but decreased by 14% to 40% in 3 weeks. The periaxial space of muscle spindle had diminished or disappeared by 2 weeks from the beginning of the procedures. The thickness of the outer capsule of the spindles had markedly increased, especially in the polar region. In the Golgi tendon organs the capsule had also thickened significantly and the internal space diminished. The alterations were similar following tenotomy or immobilization, but more marked after tenotomy than after immobilization.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.

    Baker JH (1985) The development of central cores in both fiber types in tenotomized muscles. Muscle Nerve 8:115–119

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Barker D (1974) The morphology of muscle receptors. In: Hunt C (ed) Muscle receptors. Handbook of sensory physiology, vol III/2. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 1–190

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Bertoft ES, Westerberg CE (1987) Gait disturbance after immobilization of one leg. Acta Orthop Scand 58:320–321

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Brzezinsky DK (1961) Untersuchungen zur Histochemie der Muskelspindeln. I. Topochemie der Polysaccharide. Acta Histochem 12:75–79

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Brzezinski DK (1961) Untersuchungen zur Histochemie der Muskelspindeln. II. Zur Topochemie und Funktion des Spindelraumes und der Spindelkapsel. Acta Histochem 12:277–288

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    De Reuk J (1974) The pathology of the human muscle spindles. A light microscopic, biometric and histochemical study. Acta Neuropathol (Berl) 30:43–50

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Esaki K (1966) Morphological study of muscle spindles in atrophic muscle induced by immobilization. Nagoya Med J 12:185–210

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Hnik P, Beranek R, Uyklicky L, Zelena J (1963) Sensory outflow from chronically tenotomized muscles. Physiol Bohemoslov 12:23–29

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    James N (1971) The histochemical demonstration of mucopolysaccharide in the lymph-space of muscle spindles. J Anat 110:163–171

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Józsa L, Bálint BJ, Demel S (1978) Histochemical and ultrastructural study of human muscles after spontaneous rupture of the tendon. Acta Histochem 63:61–73

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Kucera J (1980) Myofibrillar ATPase activity of intrafusal fibers in chronically deafferented rat muscle spindles. Histochemistry 66:221–228

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Kucera J (1981) Histochemical profiles of cat intrafusal muscle fibers and their motor innervation. Histochemistry 73:397–418

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Margolis RN, Baker JH (1983) Ultrastructural and biochemical changes in rat soleus muscle following tenotomy. Anat Rec 206:239–245

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Maynard JA, Tipton CM (1971) The effect of exercise training and denervation on the morphology of intrafusal fibers. Int Z Angew Physiol 30:1–9

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Maynard JA, Cooper RR, Jonaescu UU (1977) An ultrastructure investigation of intrafusal muscle fibers in myotonic dystrophy. Virchows Arch [A] 373:1–13

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Ovalle WK, Dow PR (1983) Comparative ultrastructure of the inner capsule of the muscle spindle and the tendon organ. Am J Anat 166:343–357

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Ovalle WK, Dow PR (1986) Alterations in muscle spindle morphology in advanced stages of murine muscular dystrophy. Anat Rec 216:111–126

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Shafiq SA, Goryki MA, Asiedu SA, Milhorat AT (1969) Tenotomy: effect on the fine struture of the soleus of the rat. Arch Neurol 20:625–633

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Swash M, Fox KP (1975) Abnormal intrafusal muscle fibers in myotonic dystrophy: a study using serial sections. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychia 38:91–99

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Swash M, Fox KP (1976) The pathology of muscle spindle in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. J Neurol Sci 29:17–32

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Tomanek RJ, Cooper RR (1972) Ultrastructural changes in tenotomized fast and slow muscle fibers. J Anat 113:409–424

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Tower SS (1932) Atrophy and degeneration in the muscle spindle. Brain 55:77–90

    Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Yellin H, Eldred E (1970) Spindle activity of the tenotomized gastrocnemius muscle in the cat. Exp Neurol 28:513–533

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Zelena J (1964) Development, degeneration and regeneration of mechanoreceptors. Prog Brain Res 13:206–211

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. Kvist.

Additional information

Supported by the Research Council for Physiocal Education and Sport, FInnish Ministry of Education

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Józsa, L., Kvist, M., Kannus, P. et al. The effect of tenotomy and immobilization on muscle spindles and tendon organs of the rat calf muscles. Acta Neuropathol 76, 465–470 (1988).

Download citation

Key words

  • Muscle spindles
  • Golgi tendon organs
  • Tenotomy
  • Immobilization