Morphometric and metabolic indices of disuse in muscles of hibernating ground squirrels.Comp Biochem Physiol B 1991; 99(4):815-9CB
1. Morphological, biochemical and metabolic characteristics of hindlimb muscles from summer-active (SA), winter-active (WA) and hibernating (H) golden-mantled ground squirrels (Spermophilus lateralis) were examined to identify alterations resulting from seasonal periods of inactivity. 2. Cross-sectional areas of fibers from the soleus were reduced in both WA and H, although only significantly (P less than 0.05) in WA. Fibers in the EDL exhibited significant reductions in cross-sectional areas in both H and WA groups. Muscle fiber and capillary densities were altered in quantitative agreement with changes in cross-sectional areas. 3. Protein content was reduced 20% (P less than 0.05) in EDL from H and WA groups, but reductions (10%) in the soleus were not statistically significant. RNA content in WA and H groups was significantly decreased in soleus (20%) and EDL (35%) compared with SA, but DNA content was unchanged. 4. In the plantaris, triglyceride content was unchanged, but citrate synthase activity in H (210 +/- 13 mumol min-1 g-1) was significantly greater than in SA (177 +/- 10). In contrast, LDH activity in H was reduced by 25% (P less than 0.05) compared with SA. 5. These results demonstrate atrophic effects associated with seasonal inactivity in hibernating ground squirrels, but suggest the existence of natural mechanisms which limit the response.