Using a double-labelling technique, and dual-channel confocal microscopy, we examined the three-dimensional and two-dimensional morphologies of motor endplates on type I and II muscle fibres of 21-day-old and adult rat diaphragms. Motor endplates were visualized with fluorescein-conjugated α-bungarotoxin, and muscle fibre type was immunocytochemically determined using an anti-fast (type II) myosin antibody with a Cy5-conjugated label. Surface (three-dimensional) and planar (two-dimensional) areas were obtained from three-dimensional reconstructions of confocal optical sections of labelled endplates. Muscle fibre diameters were also measured. Total branch lengths were measured from projection images of the three dimensional reconstructions. The surface and planar areas of endplates on type I fibres at day 21 were larger than those on type II fibres, and this difference increased with maturation. In adults, the surface area of endplates was positively correlated to muscle fibre size, but such a correlation was not found at day 21. When normalized for fibre diameter, the surface areas of endplates on type I fibres were still significantly larger than those on type II fibres in both age groups. The normalized endplate surface area for type II fibres remained constant with maturation, whereas for type I fibres, the increase in endplate surface area was disproportionate to fibre growth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology