Creatine kinase, myosin heavy chains and magnetic resonance imaging after eccentric exercise

J Sports Sci. 2001 Sep;19(9):687-91. doi: 10.1080/02640410152475810.


The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between myosin heavy chain (MHC) release as a specific marker of slow-twitch muscle fibre breakdown and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of skeletal muscle injury after eccentric exercise. The effects of a single series of 70 high-intensity eccentric contractions of the quadriceps femoris muscle group (single leg) on plasma concentrations of creatine kinase and MHC fragments were assessed in 10 young male sport education trainees before and 1 and 4 days after exercise. To visualize muscle injury, MRI of the loaded thigh was performed before and 4 days after the eccentric exercise. All participants recorded an increase (P < 0.05) in creatine kinase after exercise. In five participants, T2 signal intensity was unchanged post-exercise compared with pre-exercise and MHC plasma concentration was normal; however, they showed an increase (P < 0.05) in creatine kinase after exercise. For the remaining five participants, there was an increase in T2 signal intensity of the loaded vastus intermedius and vastus lateralis. These changes in MRI were accompanied by an increase in MHC plasma concentration (P< 0.01) as well as an increase in creatine kinase (P < 0.01). We suggest that changes in MRI T, signal intensity after muscle damage induced by eccentric exercise are closely related to damage to structurally bound contractile filaments of some muscle fibres. Additionally, MHC plasma release indicates that this damage affects not only fast-twitch fibres but also some slow-twitch fibres.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Creatine Kinase / blood*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle Fibers, Slow-Twitch / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscle, Skeletal / injuries
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Myosin Heavy Chains / blood*
  • Radiography


  • Creatine Kinase
  • Myosin Heavy Chains