Regeneration of new fibers in muscles of old rats reduces contraction-induced injury

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1999 Aug;87(2):750-6. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1999.87.2.750.


Skeletal muscles are injured by their own contractions. Compared with muscles in young animals, those in old animals are injured more easily and more severely and regenerate less well afterward. Injection of a myotoxin (bupivacaine) causes complete degeneration of fibers in extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscles of rats, followed by full regeneration within 60 days. We tested the specific hypothesis that, 3 days after a protocol of pliometric (lengthening) contractions, the newly regenerated muscle fibers in bupivacaine-treated EDL muscles in both young and old rats would show a lesser deficit in maximum force and fewer damaged fibers than muscles in nontreated EDL muscles. The treated and nontreated EDL muscles of young and old male Wistar rats were administered a protocol of 225 pliometric contractions and were evaluated 3 days afterward, when morphological damage to muscle fibers is most severe. In treated compared with nontreated EDL muscles of both young and old rats, the force deficit and the number of damaged fibers were each reduced by approximately 75%. We conclude that newly regenerated fibers in muscles of young and old animals are resistant to injury and that maintenance of newly regenerated fibers by conditioning may prevent inadvertent damage, particularly in muscles of elderly people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Bupivacaine
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Isometric Contraction
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / ultrastructure
  • Muscles / injuries*
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Muscles / pathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Regeneration / physiology*


  • Bupivacaine