Skeletal muscle wasting with disuse atrophy is multi-dimensional: the response and interaction of myonuclei, satellite cells and signaling pathways
Nuclei have been enumerated in muscle fibres of different physiological properties within adult rats and rabbits. Almost invariably, and regardless of muscle type, there is a direct relationship between the cross-sectional area (or fibre breadth) of muscle fibres and the number of nuclei within them. The one exception occurred in muscles of older rats where increased nuclear numbers do not always appear to result in broader muscle fibres. The greater complement of nuclei in broader fibres is accompanied by larger amounts of cell substance per nucleus. Confirming early observations in the literature, red fibres of the slow-phasic type have more nuclei than have white, fast-phasic fibres of similar breadth. These conclusions are not vitiated by differences in the number of nuclei within capillaries or in satellite cells, by differences in nuclear length or by variation in the degree to which fibres are contracted. In respect of their complement of nuclei, and the average amount of cell substance formed per nucleus the small red fibres that occur within muscles of predominantly fast-phasic character appear to be fast-rather than slow-phasic in type. When the number of nuclei observed per fibre is plotted against fibre cross-sectional area, the shapes of the resulting distributions suggest that estimates of muscle nuclei may be valuable not only as an index of growth potential, but of the extent to which that potential is expressed. In one muscle, the above distribution was of a form which indicated that some fibres may have formed abnormally large amounts of protein per nucleus. However, this was not adequately confirmed. Various factors have been investigated that are relevant to the accuracy of enumerating nuclei and measuring fibre breadths.