Impact of diaphragm muscle fiber atrophy on neuromotor control

Carlos B. Mantilla, Gary C. Sieck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In skeletal muscles, motor units comprise a motoneuron and the group of muscle fibers innervated by it, which are usually classified based on myosin heavy chain isoform expression. Motor units displaying diverse contractile and fatigue properties are important in determining the range of motor behaviors that can be accomplished by a muscle. Muscle fiber atrophy and weakness may disproportionately affect specific fiber types across a variety of diseases or clinical conditions, thus impacting neuromotor control. In this regard, fiber atrophy that affects a specific fiber type will alter the relative contribution of different motor units to overall muscle structure and function. For example, in various diseases there is fairly selective atrophy of type IIx and/or IIb fibers comprising the strongest yet most fatigable motor units. As a result, there is muscle weakness (i.e., reductions in force per cross-sectional area) associated with an apparent improvement in resistance to fatiguing contractions. This review will examine neuromotor control of respiratory muscles such as the diaphragm muscle and the impact of muscle fiber atrophy on motor performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-418
Number of pages8
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013


  • Motor unit recruitment
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Phrenic motoneuron
  • Respiration
  • Respiratory muscles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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