Muscular enlargement and number of fibers in skeletal muscles of rats


The effect of muscular enlargement produced by surgical ablation of a synergist and the combination of synergist ablation and exercise on the number of fibers in the soleus (S), plantaris (P), and extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscles of the rat was studied. The number of fibers per muscle was determined by direct counts of individual fibers dissected from HNO -treated muscles. Ablation of a synergist produced average enlargements of about 25, 45, and 29% for the S, P, and EDL muscles, respectively. Exercise and synergist ablation produced increase in wet weight to about 44 and 88% for the S and P muscles, respectively, whereas no further increases were observed in the EDL muscles. Intraanimal comparisons revealed that no differences existed for total fiber number or the incidence of fibers with bifurcations between the enlarged and contralateral control muscles. The difference in dry weight of fibers from the enlarged as compared with control muscles was closely correlated to differences in total muscle wet weight. These data demonstrate that hypertrophy rather than hyperplasia was responsible for increases from 10 to over 100% in the weight of skeletal muscles.

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Journal of Applied Physiology Respiratory Environmental and Exercise Physiology