Fiber size and myosin phenotypes of selected Rhesus hindlimb muscles after a 14-day spaceflight.

R. R. Roy, S. C. Bodine, D. J. Pierotti, J. A. Kim, R. J. Talmadge, G. Barkhoudarian, J. W. Fanton, I. Koslovskaya, V. R. Edgerton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Open muscle biopsies were obtained from Rhesus soleus (slow ankle extensor), medial gastrocnemius (fast ankle extensor) and tibialis anterior (fast ankle flexor) muscles before and after either a 14-day spaceflight (BION 11, n=2) or ground-based flight simulation (n=3) and in time-matched controls (n=5). Fiber type distribution (immunohistochemistry), myosin heavy chain (MHC) composition (gel electrophoresis) and fiber size were determined. There was a large amount of inter-animal variability and there were no significant pre-post differences for any variable under any condition for any muscle studied. However, each muscle showed trends towards adaptation. Based on the immunohistochemical analyses, the percentage of type I fibers in the soleus was 68 and 86% in pre and 43 and 70% in post biopsies of the simulation and flight groups. The number of hybrid (containing both fast and slow MHC) fibers increased in both groups. MHC composition changed in a similar direction. Type I and hybrid fibers were 23 and 31% smaller after than before flight. In the medial gastrocnemius, type I fibers were 16, 14 and 32% smaller in post compared to pre biopsies in control, simulation and flight Rhesus. In the tibialis anterior, type I fibers were approximately 14% smaller in post- than pre-flight biopsies. As expected the soleus, a slow anti-gravity muscle, was most affected after 14 days of weightlessness. Further, slow fibers in each muscle were more responsive to microgravity than fast fibers. All changes, however, were smaller than those observed in rats after the same duration of flight. This differential effect may be related to the partial restraint of Rhesus in the chaired position compared to the free-floating position of rats in the cage and/or to differences in the contractile protein turnover rates between species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-62
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of gravitational physiology : a journal of the International Society for Gravitational Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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