SDH activity and cross-sectional area of muscle fibers in cat diaphragm

G. C. Sieck, R. D. Sacks, C. E. Blanco, V. R. Edgerton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) activity and cross-sectional area of individual muscle fibers in the cat diaphragm were quantified using a computerized image-processing system. The population distributions of fiber-SDH activities and cross-sectional areas showed considerable range within each diaphragm. Despite an overlap in the distribution of SDH activities between fast-twitch (i.e., those staining darkly for myosin ATPase) and slow-twitch (i.e., those staining lightly for myosin ATPase) fibers, differences between the two populations of fibers were observed. Fast-twitch fibers generally had lower SDH activities and greater cross-sectional areas than slow-twtich fibers. However, the range of SDH activities and cross-sectional areas of fast-twitch fibers was much greater than in slow-twitch fibers. The population distributions of SDH activities and cross-sectional areas of both fast- and slow-twitch fibers were unimodal. The unimodal distribution of SDH activities in fast-twitch fibers suggested that these fibers could not be clearly subdivided into two groups based on differences in their oxidative capacity (i.e., high- and low-oxidative fibers). These results were discussed in the context of the classification of fast-twitch glycolytic and fast-twitch oxidative-glycolytic fibers using qualitative histochemistry. In addition, the functional significance of the unimodal distribution of oxidative capacities in fast-twitch fibers was discussed in relation to the distribution of fatigue properties in fast-twitch motor units. A significant negative correlation between cross-sectional area and SDH activity in both fast- and slow-twitch fibers was also observed. The importance of this negative correlation in relationship to the diffusion of energy substrates for oxidative metabolism was discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1284-1292
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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