• muscle fiber type grouping;
  • rat;
  • reinnervation;
  • skeletal muscle;
  • slow-twitch muscle fibers;
  • topographical organization


In adult rats, the sciatic nerve was unilaterally sectioned and reunited above the knee. Following a survival time of 21 weeks, five muscles were removed from both lower hindlimbs after determining their intra-limb positions. In each muscle, cryostat sections from seven equidistant proximo-distal levels were stained for myofibrillar ATPase. Intramuscular positions were determined for all slow-twitch type I fibers. Within each muscle, type I fibers were heterogeneously distributed, and the direction of type I fiber accumulation was, on average, almost identical in reinnervated muscles and contralateral controls. Furthermore, as in controls, a proximo-distal decline of type I fiber density was found in reinnervated muscles. Compared to contralateral controls, reinnervated muscles consistently showed a very high number of type I fibers at close interfiber distances, indicating respecification of muscle fiber types by the ingrowing nerve fibers. The results suggest that slow-twitch motor axons preferentially grew back toward the original slow-twitch muscle regions. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Muscle Nerve 25: 000–000, 2002