Regional myosin heavy chain distribution in selected paraspinal muscles

Gilad J. Regev, Choll W. Kim, Bryan E. Thacker, Akihito Tomiya, Steven R. Garfin, Samuel R. Ward, Richard L. Lieber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


STUDY DESIGN. Cross-sectional study with repeated measures design. OBJECTIVE. To compare the myosin heavy-chain isoform distribution within and between paraspinal muscles and to test the theory that fiber-type gradients exist as a function of paraspinal muscle depth. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA. There is still uncertainty regarding the fiber-type distributions within different paraspinal muscles. It has been previously proposed that deep fibers of the multifidus muscle may contain a higher ratio of type I to type II fibers, because, unlike superficial fibers, they primarily stabilize the spine, and may therefore have relatively higher endurance. Using a minimally invasive surgical approach, using tubular retractors that are placed within anatomic intermuscular planes, it was feasible to obtain biopsies from the multifidus, longissimus, iliocostalis, and psoas muscles at specific predefined depths. METHODS. Under an institutional review board-approved protocol, muscle biopsies were obtained from 15 patients who underwent minimally invasive spinal surgery, using the posterior paramedian (Wiltse) approach or the minimally invasive lateral approach. Myosin heavy chain (MyHC) isoform distribution was analyzed using SDS-PAGE (sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis) electrophoresis. Because multiple biopsies were obtained from each patient, MyHC distribution was compared using both within- and between-muscle repeated measures analyses. RESULTS. The fiber-type distribution was similar among the posterior paraspinal muscles and was composed of relatively high percentage of type I (63%), compared to type IIA (19%) and type IIX (18%) fibers. In contrast, the psoas muscle was found to contain a lower percentage of type I fibers (42%) and a higher percentage of type IIA (33%) and IIX fibers (26%; P < 0.05). No significant difference was found for fiber-type distribution among 3 different depths of themultifidus and psoas muscles. CONCLUSION. Fiber-type distribution between the posterior paraspinal muscles is consistent and is composed of relatively high percentage of type I fibers, consistent with a postural function. The psoas muscle, on the other hand, is composed of a higher percentage of type II fibers such as in the appendicular muscles. Our data do not support the idea of a fiber-type gradient as a function of depth for any muscle studied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1265-1270
Number of pages6
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010


  • Lumbar multifidus
  • Lumbar spine
  • Muscle mechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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