Diaphragm muscle fatigue resistance during postnatal development

G. C. Sieck, M. Fournier, C. E. Blanco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Changes in the contractile and fatigue properties of the cat diaphragm muscle were examined during the first 6 wk of postnatal development. Both twitch contraction time and half-relaxation time decreased progressively with age. Correspondingly, the force-frequency curve was shifted to the left early in development compared with adults. The ratio of peak twitch force to maximum tetanic force decreased with age. Fatigue resistance of the diaphragm was highest at birth and then progressively decreased with age. At birth, most diaphragm muscle fibers stained darkly for myofibrillar adenosinetriphosphatase after alkaline preincubation and thus would be classified histochemically as type II. During subsequent postnatal development, the proportion of type I fibers (lightly stained for adenosinetriphosphatase) increased while the number of type II fibers declined. At birth, type I fibers were larger than type II fibers. The size of both fiber types increased with age, but the increase in cross-sectional area was greater for type II fibers. On the basis of fiber type proportions and mean cross-sectional areas, type I fibers contributed 15% of total muscle mass at birth and 25% in adults. Thus postnatal changes in diaphragm contractile and fatigue properties cannot be attributed to changes in the relative contribution of histochemically classified type I and II fibers. However, the possibility that these developmental changes in diaphragm contractile and fatigue properties correlated with the varying contractile protein composition of muscle fibers was discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)458-464
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991


  • contractile properties
  • endurance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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