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Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research

Print version ISSN 0100-879XOn-line version ISSN 1414-431X


GOMES, A.R.S. et al. Effect of one stretch a week applied to the immobilized soleus muscle on rat muscle fiber morphology. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 2004, vol.37, n.10, pp.1473-1480. ISSN 1414-431X.

We determined the effect of stretching applied once a week to the soleus muscle immobilized in the shortened position on muscle fiber morphology. Twenty-six male Wistar rats weighing 269 ± 26 g were divided into three groups. Group I, the left soleus was immobilized in the shortened position for 3 weeks; group II, the soleus was immobilized in the shortened position and stretched once a week for 3 weeks; group III, the soleus was submitted only to stretching once a week for 3 weeks. The medial part of the soleus muscle was frozen for histology and muscle fiber area evaluation and the lateral part was used for the determination of number and length of serial sarcomeres. Soleus muscle submitted only to immobilization showed a reduction in weight (44 ± 6%, P = 0.002), in serial sarcomere number (23 ± 15%) and in cross-sectional area of the fibers (37 ± 31%, P < 0.001) compared to the contralateral muscles. The muscle that was immobilized and stretched showed less muscle fiber atrophy than the muscles only immobilized (P < 0.05). Surprisingly, in the muscles submitted only to stretching, fiber area was decreased compared to the contralateral muscle (2548 ± 659 vs 2961 ± 806 µm2, respectively, P < 0.05). In conclusion, stretching applied once a week for 40 min to the soleus muscle immobilized in the shortened position was not sufficient to prevent the reduction of muscle weight and of serial sarcomere number, but provided significant protection against muscle fiber atrophy. In contrast, stretching normal muscles once a week caused a reduction in muscle fiber area.

Keywords : Muscle; Stretching; Immobilization; Sarcomere number; Muscle fiber area.

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