Effect of long-term undernutrition on male and female rat diaphragm contractility, fatigue, and fiber types

D. J. Prezant, B. Richner, T. K. Aldrich, D. E. Valentine, E. I. Gentry, J. Cahill

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The effects of long-term undernutrition (10 wk) on diaphragm contractility, fatigue, and fiber type proportions were studied in male and female rats. Contractility and fatigue resistance indexes were measured in an in vitro diaphragm costal strip preparation by using direct stimulation at 37°C. Undernutrition allowed for continued growth in males and females but with substantial reductions in weight gain. Relative to control rats of the same sex, final weights were significantly lower in undernourished males (74 ± 3%) than females (90 ± 5%), but weight gain was not significantly different between undernourished males (58 ± 5%) and females (60 ± 3%). Only in males did undernutrition significantly reduce costal diaphragm weight (to 77 ± 5% of control). Diaphragm forces, normalized for cross-sectional area, were not significantly different from male or female control values. Fatigue resistance indexes (fatigue/baseline force) were increased at all stimulation frequencies in undernourished males but not in undernourished females. Costal diaphragm atrophy, involving types I and II fibers, occurred in undernourished males but not in undernourished females. In conclusion, despite long-term undernutrition reducing weight gain to similar levels in males and females (relative to control), there was excellent preservation of diaphragm weight, function, and structure in females but, although diaphragm atrophy occurred, there was preserved contractility and increased fatigue resistance in males.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1540-1547
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1994



  • gender
  • nutrition
  • respiratory muscles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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