Assessment of skeletal muscle damage in successive biopsies from strength-trained and untrained men and women

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1992;65(3):258-64. doi: 10.1007/BF00705091.


The effects of repeated biopsy sampling on muscle morphology was qualitatively and quantitatively assessed in strength-trained and untrained men and women. College-age men (13) and women (8) resistance trained twice a week for 8 weeks. A progressive resistance-training program was performed consisting of squats, leg presses, and leg extensions. Nontraining men (7) and women (5) served as controls. Muscle biopsy specimens and fasting bloods were obtained at the beginning and every 2 weeks and histochemical, biochemical, and ultrastructural methods were employed to assess the type and amount of damage. Except for a few scattered atrophic fibers in 2 of the 33 biopsy samples, all initial specimens were normal. In contrast, many of the subsequent biopsy samples from both untrained and resistance-trained men and women contained evidence of damage. Ultrastructural analysis confirmed that degenerative-regenerative processes were occurring in both groups. However, training subjects had a four-fold greater number of damaged fibers than nontraining subjects (8.53% vs 2.08%). In addition, only biopsy samples from training individuals contained fibers with internal disorganization (e.g., Z-line streaming, myofibrillar disruption). Calpain II levels in the biopsy samples and serum creatine kinase activity were not significantly affected supporting the light and electron microscopic observations that most of the damaged fibers were normal in appearance except for their small diameter. In summary, focal damage induced by the biopsy procedure is not completely repaired after 2 weeks and could affect the results, particularly cross-sectional area measurements. Moreover, resistance training appears to cause additional damage to the muscle and may delay repair of the biopsied region.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Calpain / metabolism
  • Creatine Kinase / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Nerve Degeneration
  • Physical Education and Training*


  • Isoenzymes
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Calpain