Disuse atrophy of skeletal muscle. A morphometric study using image analysis

Daniel M. Jaffe, Robert D. Terry, Alfred J. Spiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


A morphometric study of disuse atrophy was done on the rat anterior tibialis muscle over a 13-day period after immobilization of the hind leg by pinning the knee and ankle joints. Cross-sectional areas of individual muscle fibers were measured using image analysis, a new and precise technique. Three types of muscle fibers, light, medium and dark, were defined using a modified myosin-ATPase reaction on cryostat-cut sections. Each of the 3 fiber types was found to show a degree and time course of atrophy unique to itself. At the 0.01 confidence level, the dark fibers (with strongest ATPase reaction) did not shrink significantly. Both the light (ATPase negative) and medium fibers did show significant atrophy at that level; the light shrinking more than the medium. Simple visualization of the light microscopic images was often found to be misleading. Thus, the need was documented for a precise technique for analysis of fiber size distribution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-200
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Feb 1978

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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