Influence of corticosteroids on myonuclear domain size in the rat diaphragm muscle

A. Jeroen Verheul, Carlos B. Mantilla, Wen Zhi Zhan, Miguel Bernal, P. N.Richard Dekhuijzen, Gary C. Sieck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Skeletal muscle fibers are multinucleated. Each myonucleus regulates gene products and protein expression in only a restricted portion of the muscle fiber, the myonuclear domain (MND). In the rat diaphragm muscle (DIAm), corticosteroid (CoS) treatment causes atrophy of fibers containing myosin heavy chain (MHC): MHC2X and/or MHC2B. We hypothesized that DIAm fiber MND size is maintained during CoS-induced atrophy. Adult male rats received methylprednisolone for 11 days at 1 (CoS-Low, n = 8) or 8 mg·kg-1·day-1 (CoS-High, n = 8). Age-matched (CTL-AgeM, n = 8), sham-operated (SHAM-AgeM, n = 8), and weight-matched (CTL-WtM, n = 8) animals served as controls. In single DIAm fibers, cross-sectional area (CSA), MND size, and MHC expression were determined. Fiber CSA and MND size were similar in CTL-AgeM and SHAM-AgeM groups. Only fibers containing MHCslow or MHC2A displayed smaller CSA in CTL-WtM than in CTL-AgeM and SHAM-AgeM groups, and MND size was reduced in all fibers. Thus fibers containing MHCslow and MHC2A maintain the number of myonuclei, whereas MHC2X or MHC2B fibers show loss of myonuclei during normal muscle growth. Both CoS groups displayed smaller CSA and MND size than CTL-AgeM and SHAM-AgeM groups. However, compared with CTL-WtM DIAm fibers, only fibers containing MHC2X or MHC 2B displayed reduced CSA and MND size after CoS treatment. Thus little, if any, loss of myonuclei was associated with CoS-induced atrophy of MHC2X or MHC2B DIAm fibers. In summary, MND size does not appear to be regulated during CoS-induced DIAm atrophy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1715-1722
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Fiber growth
  • Methylprednisolone
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Respiratory muscles
  • Single fiber

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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