Morphological organization and contractile properties of the wrist flexor muscles in the cat



A comparison of the anatomy, fiber type profiles, and contractile properties of the wrist flexor muscles was undertaken in the cat. Isometric contractile characteristics were measured for each muscle. Three muscle fiber types, FG, FOG, and SO, were differentiated by staining cross sections of each muscle for ATPase, NADH diaphorase, SDH, and α-GPD activities. The wrist flexor muscles ranged from less than 1% to 49% SO fiber content; with two of the five heads of the flexor digitorium profundus (FDP) having 1% or less SO fibers (FDP1—1.07%, FDP5—0.81%) and the humeral head of the flexor carpi ulnaris muscle (FCUh) having the greatest content of SO fibers. The mean contraction time (CT) plus one-half relaxation time for an isometric twitch was correlated with the percentage of SO fibers and ranged from 40.5 to 111.8 ms. Except for the FCU (37 ms), the CT was less than 25 ms for the wrist flexor muscles. The uniarticular wrist flexor muscles, the flexor carpi radialis (FCR), and the FCU had the highest percentage of SO fibers and were more fatigue-resistant that the multiarticular muscles. Considerable differences exist in muscle structure, fiber type proportions, and contractile properties between the FCR and FCU, which may be related to functional differences between the two sides of the wrist that may exist during the placement of the foot during locomotion.