Skeletal muscle of trained and untrained paraplegics and tetraplegics

Acta Physiol Scand. 1997 Sep;161(1):31-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-201X.1997.201371000.x.


The effect of physical conditioning on skeletal muscle of individuals with spinal cord injuries (SCI) has been investigated. The anterior portion of the deltoid muscle (active in wheel-chair propulsion) of untrained and endurance-trained paraplegics and tetraplegics, as well as that of untrained able-bodied subjects, was studied. The characterization involved fibre type distribution, capillarization, fibre areas and also oxidative and glycolytic enzyme levels. A general trend towards a successively higher proportion of type I fibres and lower proportion of type IIB fibres was noted in the order of able-bodied subjects (type I, 42%; type IIB, 41%, n = 8), paraplegics (type I, 57%; type IIB, 13%, n = 13) and tetraplegics (type I, 74%; type IIB, 4.5%, n = 11). The trained SCI groups had significantly higher levels of the citric acid cycle marker enzyme citrate synthase (34% and 63%) than the untrained SCI groups and able-bodied subjects, respectively. The glycolytic marker enzyme 6-phosphofructokinase was 32% lower in the tetraplegic groups than in the other groups. In contrast, the fatty acid oxidation marker enzyme 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase was markedly higher in the tetraplegic group than in the able-bodied subjects (58%) and tended to be higher (21%, P < 0.1) than in the paraplegic group. The trained SCI groups displayed significantly higher (28%) levels of capillaries per fibre than the untrained SCI groups, which had about the same levels as the untrained able-bodied subjects. It is concluded that several of the findings are in line with normal muscular adaptation, whereas others are unexpected and support a hypothesis that some of the findings might be due to differences between the groups in, for instance, hormone levels or in types of muscular load.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 3-Hydroxyacyl CoA Dehydrogenases / metabolism
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Capillaries / physiology
  • Glycolysis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Malate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Male
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / enzymology
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Paraplegia / etiology
  • Paraplegia / physiopathology*
  • Paraplegia / therapy
  • Phosphofructokinase-1 / metabolism
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Quadriplegia / etiology
  • Quadriplegia / physiopathology*
  • Quadriplegia / therapy
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / therapy


  • 3-Hydroxyacyl CoA Dehydrogenases
  • Malate Dehydrogenase
  • Phosphofructokinase-1