Shortening Velocity and ATPase Activity of Rat Skeletal Muscle Fibers: Effects of Endurance Exercise Training

Document Type




Format of Original

15 p.

Publication Date



American Physiological Society

Source Publication

American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1152/ajpcell.1994.266.6.C1699


Mechanical properties were measured in single skinned fibers from rat hindlimb muscle to test the hypothesis that the fast type IIb fiber exhibits a higher maximal shortening velocity (Vo) than the fast type IIa fiber and that the difference is directly attributable to a higher myofibrillar adenosinetriphosphatase (ATPase) activity in the type IIb fiber. Additional measurements were made to test the hypotheses that regular endurance exercise increases and decreases the Vo of the type I and IIa fiber, respectively, and that the altered Vo is associated with a corresponding change in the fiber ATPase activity. Rats were exercised by 8-12 wk of treadmill running for 2 h/day, 5 day/wk, up a 15% grade at a speed of 27 m/min. Fiber Vo was determined by the slack test, and the ATPase was measured fluorometrically in the same fiber. The myosin isozyme profile of each fiber was subsequently determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The mean +/- SE Vo (7.9 +/- 0.22 fiber lengths/s) of the type IIb fiber was significantly greater than the type IIa fiber (4.4 +/- 0.21 fiber lengths/s), and the higher Vo was associated with a higher ATPase activity (927 +/- 70 vs. 760 +/- 60 μ The exercise program induced cardiac hypertrophy and an approximately twofold increase in the mitochondrial marker enzyme citrate synthase. Exercise had no effect on fiber diameter or peak tension per cross-sectional area in any fiber type, but, importantly, it significantly increased (23%) both the Vo and the ATPase activity of the slow type I fiber of the soleus. The increased Vo was highly correlated with (r – 0.76) and probably caused by the elevated fiber ATPase. Possible causes of the increased fiber Vo and ATPase include an exercise-induced increase in the number of slow fibers expressing fast myosin light chains (from 39 to 83%) and a small increase in the number of hybrid fibers containing both slow and fast myosin heavy chains. The contractile properties of the fast type IIa and IIb fibers of the gastrocnemius muscle were not significantly altered by the exercise program.


American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology, Vol. 266, No. 6 (June 1994): C1699-C1673. DOI.