In-series fiber architecture in long human muscles

J Morphol. 1993 Apr;216(1):35-45. doi: 10.1002/jmor.1052160106.


The fiber architecture of adult human sartorius and gracilis muscles was examined using a combination of fiber microdissections and histological methods. Intact fibers were dissected from fascicles of muscle strips that were digested in nitric acid. All of these fibers terminate intrafascicularly by tapering to a fine strand at one or both ends. They measure 4-20 cm after correction for shrinkage. Systematic dissections of 1 cm long blocks sampled at intervals along the muscle length suggest that tapered fiber endings occur at all locations along the muscle but are most common centrally; here they accounted for up to 14% of dissected fibers in each block. Transverse sections of muscle confirm that fiber profiles with small diameters occur at all levels of the muscle but are especially common in sections more than 5 cm from its origin or insertion. The architectural arrangement demonstrated here suggests that long human muscles, like muscles in other species, are composed of relatively short, in-series fibers. This has many implications for the neural activation and force-developing behavior of these muscles that must be considered when paralyzed muscles are reanimated using electrical stimulation. Further, it may predispose long muscles to certain types of neuromuscular damage and dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dissection
  • Female
  • Hip / anatomy & histology
  • Hip / pathology
  • Humans
  • Leg / anatomy & histology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscles / cytology
  • Thigh / anatomy & histology
  • Thigh / pathology