Force and Shortening Velocity are Reduced in 24-month Fischer 344 Rats

Leah A. Davis, Luis Forero, Genesis Hernandez-Vizcarrondo, Young Soo Han, Carlos B. Mantilla, Gary C. Sieck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The diaphragm muscle (DIAm) shortens and produces force to generate negative intra-thoracic pressure for airflow into the lungs and positive intra-abdominal pressure for airway clearance and expulsive behaviors. Breathing is a low force repetitive behavior that requires recruitment of fatigue resistant type I and IIa DIAm fibers. In contrast, short duration airway clearance behaviors are infrequent and associated with greater DIAm force that require the additional recruitment of more fatigable type IIx/IIb fibers. Aging is characterized by selective atrophy of type IIx/IIb DIAm fibers and decreased specific force, i.e., sarcopenia. Older individuals are able to breathe without difficulty but have trouble with some higher force airway clearance behaviors of the DIAm such as coughing and sneezing. In 6- and 24-month Fischer 344 rats (n=6 per group), DIAm strips were dissected from the mid-costal region, mounted in a tissue chamber filled with Rees-Simpson solution, and stimulated directly to measure maximum isometric specific force (Po) and maximum shortening velocity (Vmax ) using a Cambridge dual-mode length-force servo controller (model 300B). In addition, power fatigue was assessed during repetitive isovelocity (30%Vmax ) contractions evoked by 75 Hz in 400-ms-duration stimulus trains repeated for a 2-min period. Additional muscle segments were rapidly frozen at optimal sarcomere length in melting isopentane, and transverse muscle fiber sections were cut at 10 µm thickness for determination of muscle fiber type (based on myosin heavy chain immunoreactivity) and fiber cross-sectional areas. The relationship between force (load) and shortening velocity was determined using the Hill equation. Aging significantly reduced maximum isometric force, maximum shortening velocity, and maximum power output of the DIAm in older rats. The reduction in power during repetitive isovelocity shortening was reduced in older rats, but the residual power output after 2 min stimulation was comparable between young and old rats. These changes in mechanical and fatigue properties were consistent with the selective atrophy of type IIx/IIb DIAm fibers and reflected the sustained output of type I and IIa DIAm fibers, which are recruited for essential breathing behaviors.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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