Scaling of muscle architecture and fiber types in the rat hindlimb

Carolyn M. Eng, Laura H. Smallwood, Maria Pia Rainiero, Michele Lahey, Samuel R. Ward, Richard L. Lieber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


The functional capacity of a muscle is determined by its architecture and metabolic properties. Although extensive analyses of muscle architecture and fiber type have been completed in a large number of muscles in numerous species, there have been few studies that have looked at the interrelationship of these functional parameters among muscles of a single species. Nor have the architectural properties of individual muscles been compared across species to understand scaling. This study examined muscle architecture and fiber type in the rat (Rattus norvegicus) hindlimb to examine each muscle's functional specialization. Discriminant analysis demonstrated that architectural properties are a greater predictor of muscle function (as defined by primary joint action and anti-gravity or non anti-gravity role) than fiber type. Architectural properties were not strictly aligned with fiber type, but when muscles were grouped according to anti-gravity versus non-anti-gravity function there was evidence of functional specialization. Specifically, anti-gravity muscles had a larger percentage of slow fiber type and increased muscle physiological cross-sectional area. Incongruities between a muscle's architecture and fiber type may reflect the variability of functional requirements on single muscles, especially those that cross multiple joints. Additionally, discriminant analysis and scaling of architectural variables in the hindlimb across several mammalian species was used to explore whether any functional patterns could be elucidated within single muscles or across muscle groups. Several muscles deviated from previously described muscle architecture scaling rules and there was large variability within functional groups in how muscles should be scaled with body size. This implies that functional demands placed on muscles across species should be examined on the single muscle level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2336-2345
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Muscle architecture
  • Muscle fiber type
  • Muscle mechanics
  • Scaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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