Effects of undernutrition on diaphragm fiber size, SDH activity, and fatigue resistance

G. C. Sieck, M. I. Lewis, C. E. Blanco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


The influence of prolonged nutritional deprivation on the succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) activity and cross-sectional areas of individual fibers in the rat diaphragm and deep portion of the medial gastrocnemius (MG(r)) muscles was determined. Fatigue resistance of the diaphragm was measured by means of an in vitro nerve-muscle strip preparation. Fiber SDH activity and cross-sectional area were quantified by means of an image processing system. Diaphragm fatigue resistance was significantly improved in the nutritionally deprived (ND) group. In both muscles, nutritional deprivation resulted in a significant decrease in fiber cross-sectional area (both type I and II), type II fibers showing greater atrophy. The SDH activities of type I and II fibers in the diaphragm were not affected by nutritional deprivation. This contrasted with a significant decrease in the SDH activity of both type I and II fibers in the MG(r) of ND animals. An assessment of the interrelationships between fiber atrophy and fiber SDH activity revealed a greater effect of malnutrition on those diaphragm type II fibers that had the lowest relative SDH activities and the largest cross-sectional areas. By comparison, the effect of malnutrition on type I and II fibers in the MGR, was nonselective with regard to fiber SDH activity. We conclude that the enhanced diaphragm fatigue resistance in the ND animals does not result from an increase in the oxidative capacity of muscle fibers and is best explained by the pattern of diaphragm muscle fiber atrophy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2196-2205
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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