Na+,K+-ATPase concentration and fiber type distribution after spinal cord injury
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Complete spinal cord injury (SCI) is characterized, in part, by reduced fatigue-resistance of the paralyzed skeletal muscle during stimulated contractions, but the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. The effects of complete SCI on skeletal muscle Na(+),K(+)-adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase) concentration, and fiber type distribution were therefore investigated. Six individuals (aged 32.0 +/- 5.3 years) with complete paraplegia (T4-T10; 1-19 years since injury) participated. There was a significantly lower Na(+),K(+)-ATPase concentration in the paralyzed vastus lateralis (VL) when compared to either the subjects' own unaffected deltoid or literature values (from our laboratory, utilizing the same methodology) of VL Na(+),K(+)-ATPase concentration for the healthy able-bodied (141.6 +/- 50.0, 213.4 +/- 23.9, 339 +/- 16 pmol/g wet wt., respectively; P < 0.05). There was also a significant negative correlation between the Na(+),K(+)-ATPase concentration in the paralyzed VL and years since injury (r = -0.75, P < 0.05). These findings are clinically relevant as they suggest that reductions in Na(+),K(+)-ATPase contribute to the fatigability of paralyzed muscle after SCI. Unexpectedly, the VL muscles of our subjects had a higher proportion of their area represented by type I fibers compared to literature values for the VL of the healthy able-bodied (52.6 +/- 25.3% vs. 36 +/- 11.3%, respectively; P < 0.05). As all our subjects had upper motor neuron injuries and, therefore, experienced muscle spasticity, our findings warrant further investigation into the relationship between muscle spasticity and fiber type expression after SCI.