Contractile and cellular remodeling in rabbit skeletal muscle after cyclic eccentric contractions

R. L. Lieber*, M. C. Schmitz, D. K. Mishra, J. Friden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


The time course of muscle contractile and cellular properties was studied in rabbit ankle flexor muscles after injury produced by eccentric exercise. Cyclic eccentric exercise was produced by increasing the tibiotarsal angle of the rabbit while activating the peroneal nerve by use of transcutaneous electrodes. Muscle properties were measured 1, 2, 3, 7, 14, and 28 days after exercise to define the time course of muscle changes after injury. A control group receiving only isometric contraction was used to study the effect of cyclic activation itself. The magnitude of the torque decline after 1 day was the same with use of isometric or eccentric exercise, but eccentric exercise resulted in a further decrease in torque after 2 days, at which time isometrically exercised muscles had fully recovered. The most prominent morphological changes in the injured muscle fibers were the loss of antibody staining for the desmin cytoskeletal protein and deposition of intracellular fibronectin, even when the injured muscle fibers retained their normal complement of contractile and enzymatic proteins. The presence of fibronectin inside the myofibers indicated a loss of cellular integrity. Invasion by inflammatory cells was apparent on the basis of localization of embryonic myosin. Thus eccentric exercise initiates a series of events that results in disruption of the cytoskeletal network and an inflammatory response that could be the mechanism for further deterioration of the contractile response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1926-1934
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1994


  • cytoskeleton
  • desmin
  • eccentric exercise
  • inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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