High Altitude Tissue Adaptation in Andean Coots: Capillarity, Fibre Area, Fibre Type and Enzymatic Activities of Skeletal Muscle

J Comp Physiol B. 1993;163(1):52-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00309665.


Capillarity, fibre types, fibre area and enzyme activities of different skeletal muscles (pectoralis, extensor digitorum longus), tibialis anterior, plantaris and the myocardium) were compared in Andean coot (Fulica americana peruviana) native to high altitude (Junín, Perú, 4200 m) and the same species nesting at sea level. Numbers of capillaries per square millimeter were higher in all high-altitude muscles when compared with sea-level muscles (P < 0.0001). Moreover, values for capillaries per fibre and capillaries in contact with each fibre were higher in digitorum and tibialis high-altitude muscles. Muscle fibres were classified as Type I, Type IIA or Type IIB on the basis of their myofibrillar ATPase pH lability. Pectoralis muscle of high-altitude and sea-level coots presented only fibres of Type IIA. In contrast, all the leg muscles studied showed a mosaic pattern of the three fibre types. Fibre areas were determined using a Leitz Texture Analysis System. Significant differences in fibre area were observed (P < 0.01) between high-altitude and sea-level muscles. Mean muscle fibre diameters were also lower in the high-altitude group than in the sea-level group. The enzyme activities studied were hexokinase, lactate dehydrogenase, citrate synthase and 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA-dehydrogenase. The oxidative capacity, as reflected by citrate synthetase and hydroxyacyl-CoA-dehydrogenase activities, was greater for myocardial and pectoralis than for leg muscles. However, analysis of maximal enzyme activities showed that there were no significant differences between the glycolytic and oxidative enzyme activities of high-altitude and sea-level coots.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Altitude*
  • Animals
  • Birds / anatomy & histology*
  • Capillaries / anatomy & histology
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscles / blood supply
  • Muscles / enzymology
  • Peru