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Morphological alterations of mouse skeletal muscles during early ageing are muscle specific

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Guy Anselme Messa, Mathew Piasecki, Cameron Hill, Jamie S. McPhee, Jason Tallis, Hans Degens

Original languageEnglish
Article number110684
JournalExperimental Gerontology
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2019

King's Authors


•In CD-1 mice early ageing was associated with hypertrophy of diaphragm and atrophy of extensor digitorum longus muscle fibers

•The diaphragm hypertrophy and atrophy in the EDL were not accompanied by angiogenesis or capillary rarefaction

•Ageing-related changes differ between muscles

One of the hallmarks of ageing is muscle wasting that may be preceded by morphological changes, such as capillary rarefaction. Muscle-specific changes in morphology in early ageing may differ between locomotor and respiratory muscles. To investigate this, we compared capillarization, fiber type composition, fiber cross-sectional area (FCSA) and oxidative capacity of individual fibers of the soleus (n = 6/5 for 20- and 79 weeks, respectively), extensor digitorum longus (EDL: n = 3/3) and diaphragm (n = 7/5) muscles in 20- (mature) and 79-week-old (early ageing) CD-1 female mice. There was no significant loss of soleus and EDL mass. The FCSA was larger and the capillary density lower at 79 than 20 weeks in the diaphragm, while in the EDL the opposite was found (both p ≤ 0.002) with no significant ageing-related differences in the soleus. The heterogeneity in capillary spacing, which may negatively impact on muscle oxygenation, was highest in muscles from 20-week-old mice, irrespective of muscle (p ≤ 0.011). Succinate dehydrogenase activity, indicative of oxidative capacity, and capillary to fiber ratio did not significantly change with age in any muscle. At all ages, the capillary supply to a fiber was positively related to FCSA in each muscle. We conclude that despite previously reported early age-related reductions in specific tension in both locomotor and respiratory muscles, morphological changes show a muscle-specific pattern in early ageing CD-1 mice. Specifically, early ageing was associated with 1) diaphragm hypertrophy 2) and fiber atrophy in the EDL that was not accompanied by angiogenesis, capillary rarefaction or reductions in oxidative capacity.

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