Quantification of sarcomere length distribution in whole muscle frozen sections

Shawn M. O'Connor, Elton J. Cheng, Kevin W. Young, Samuel R. Ward, Richard L. Lieber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Laser diffraction (LD) is a valuable tool for measuring sarcomere length (Ls), a major determinant of muscle function. However, this method relies on few measurements per sample that are often extrapolated to whole muscle properties. Currently it is not possible to measure Ls throughout an entire muscle and determine how Ls varies at this scale. To address this issue, we developed an actuated LD scanner for sampling large numbers of sarcomeres in thick whole muscle longitudinal sections. Sections of high optical quality and fixation were produced from tibialis anterior and extensor digitorum longus muscles of Sprague-Dawley rats (N=6). Scans produced twodimensional Ls maps, capturing >85% of the muscle area per section. Individual Ls measures generated by automatic LD and bright-field microscopy showed excellent agreement over a large Ls range (ICC>0.93). Two-dimensional maps also revealed prominent regional Ls variations across muscles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1432-1436
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2016


  • Laser diffraction
  • Muscle architecture
  • Sarcomere length

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology


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