Effects of fetal spinal cord tissue transplants and cycling exercise on the soleus muscle in spinalized rats

John D. Houle, Kellie Morris, Robert D. Skinner, Edgar Garcia-Rill, Charlotte A. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Studies were carried out to determine if an intraspinal transplant (Trpl) of fetal spinal cord tissue or hind limb exercise (Ex) affected the changes in myosin heavy chain (MyHC) composition or myofiber size that occur following a complete transection (Tx) of the lower thoracic spinal cord of the adult rat. In one group of animals, transplants were made acutely, whereas in a second group, daily cycling exercise was initiated 5 days after injury, with animals in both groups being sacrificed 90 days after injury. The soleus muscle is normally composed of myofibers expressing either type I (90%) or type lla (10%) MyHC. Following a spinal transection, expression of type I MyHC isoform decreased (18% of myofibers), type lla MyHC expression increased (65% of myofibers), and the majority of myofibers (80%) expressed type llx MyHC. Most myofibers coexpressed multiple MyHC isoforms. Compared with Tx only, with Ex or with Trpl, there was a decrease in the number of myofibers expressing type l or lla isoforms but little change in expression of llx MyHC. Myofibers expressing the llb isoform appeared in several transplant recipients but not after exercise. Transection resulted in atrophy of type l myofibers to approximately 50% of normal size, whereas, myofibers were significantly larger after exercise (74% of control) and in Trpl recipients (77% of control). Type lla myofibers also were significantly larger in Trpl recipients compared with the Tx only group. Overall, the mean myofiber size was significantly greater after exercise and in Trpl recipients compared with myofibers in Tx only animals. Thus, although neither strategy shifted the MyHC profile towards the control, both interventions influenced the extent of atrophy observed after spinalization. These data suggest that palliative strategies can be developed to modulate some of the changes in hind limb muscles that occur following a spinal cord injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)846-856
Number of pages11
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1999


  • Muscle atrophy
  • Myosin heavy chain
  • Neurotransplantation
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Physiology (medical)


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