Characteristics of diaphragm muscle fibre types in hibernating squirrels.Respir Physiol 1995; 101(3):301-9RP
Muscle samples from the diaphragms of 7 full-awake (FA), 10 winter-awake (WA), and 8 hibernating (H) squirrels (Spermophilus lateralis) were quick frozen, sectioned and processed for NADH-TR reaction end-product and myofibrillar-ATPase. Both WA and H squirrels showed small increases in diaphragm weight, reductions in body weight, and hence, significant increases in the diaphragm weight to body weight ratio compared to FA squirrels. They also showed increases in muscle fibre type cross-sectional areas and in the oxidative capacity of type 2b fibres as well as a reduction in capillary density. Furthermore, there also was an increase in the proportion of type 2b fibres in the diaphragm of the H squirrels. Thus, despite the dramatically reduced ventilation associated with hibernation, H squirrels exhibited (1) hypertrophy of the diaphragm which may represent an adaptive response that enables them to work against a stiffer chest wall, and (2) an increased oxidative capacity which enables them to fuel this with fat.