Muscle Fiber Population and Biochemical Properties of Whole Body Muscles in Thoroughbred Horses



We examine the muscle fiber population and metabolic properties of skeletal muscles from the whole body in Thoroughbred horses. Postmortem samples were taken from 46 sites in six Thoroughbred horses aged between 3 and 6 years. Fiber type population was determined on muscle fibers stained with monoclonal antibody to each myosin heavy chain isoform and metabolic enzyme activities were determined spectrophotometrically. Histochemical analysis demonstrated that most of the muscles had a high percentage of Type IIa fibers. In terms of the muscle characteristic in several parts of the horse body, the forelimb muscles had a higher percentage of Type IIa fiber and a significantly lower percentage of Type IIx fiber than the hindlimb muscles. The muscle fiber type populations in the thoracic and trunk portion were similar to those in the hindlimb portion. Biochemical analysis indicated high succinate dehydrogenase activity in respiratory-related muscle and high phosphofructokinase activity in hindlimbs. We suggested that the higher percentage of Type IIa fibers in Thoroughbred racehorses is attributed to training effects. To consider further the physiological significance of each part of the body, data for the recruitment pattern of each muscle fiber type during exercise are needed. The muscle fiber properties in this study combined with the recruitment data would provide fundamental information for physiological and pathological studies in Thoroughbred horses. Anat Rec, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.