Skeletal muscle architecture and fiber-type distribution with the multiple bellies of the mouse extensor digitorum longus muscle

G. S. Chleboun, T. J. Patel, R. L. Lieber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to describe the extent to which architectural and fiber-type characteristics of the four bellies of the mouse extensor digitorum longus (EDL) suggest specialization of the digits, and to mathematically model the functional effects of the structural properties. Six mice were perfused in situ with glutaraldehyde while the lower limb was positioned approximately in the neutral position. After perfusion, lower limbs were removed and placed in glutaraldehyde until the EDL was dissected from the limb and separated into individual muscle bellies corresponding to each digit for architectural determination. The results showed that the muscle belly of digit 5 tended to be different from the muscle bellies of digits 2-4 for many architectural characteristics. Muscle mass, physiological cross-sectional area, muscle length, and fiber length were all significantly greater in digit 5. Proximal tendon length was also significantly longer in digit 5, and distal tendon length, as well as total tendon length, were significantly shorter in digit 5. Sarcomere length was shortest at the proximal end of the muscle and longest, 60-80%, toward the distal end. Fiber type distribution was about 60% FOG, 39% FG with only 1% SO fibers in all muscle bellies. Muscle-tendon modeling illustrated that peak force and maximal shortening velocity were greatest in digit 5. Inclusion of the tendon in the model resulted in a 10% shift of the force-length curve to longer lengths. Assuming muscle structure is matched to function, we speculate that digit 5 of the mouse EDL bears higher loads over a greater excursion during locomotion compared to the remaining digits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-155
Number of pages9
JournalActa Anatomica
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 1997


  • Architecture
  • Compartmentalization
  • Extensor digitorum longus
  • Fiber type
  • Multitendon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy


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