This investigation determined the effects of 84 days of bedrest on the composition of myosin heavy chain (MHC) in single skeletal muscle fibres with and without a resistance-training countermeasure programme.
Muscle biopsies were obtained from the m. vastus lateralis (VL) and m. soleus (SOL) before and after 84 days of bedrest. While control (BR) subjects (VL n = 9; SOL n = 3) refrained from exercise, BRE subjects (VL n = 8; SOL n = 3) performed knee extensor and plantar flexor resistance exercise every third day. Approximately 110 fibres per sample were analysed for MHC composition using SDS-PAGE.
BR-VL had 16 and 14% decreases (P < 0.05) in MHC I and IIa fibres, respectively. There were 10% increases (P < 0.05) in MHC I/IIa, IIa/IIx, I/IIa/IIx, and a approximately 30% increase (P < 0.05) in total hybrid fibres. BRE-VL showed a 15% reduction (P < 0.05) in MHC I fibres, no change in MHC IIa fibres, and a 13% increase (P < 0.05) in total hybrids. BR-SOL had a 19% decrease (P < 0.05) in MHC I fibres with a 22% increase in total hybrids. BRE-SOL showed no change in MHC composition across all fibre types.
These data suggest that the exercise countermeasures programme prevented MHC shifts in the SOL and mitigated MHC shifts in the VL. Furthermore, in the VL it appears that the resistance training programme employed in this investigation during bedrest, emphasized the use of MHC IIa phenotype muscle fibres.