• alpha-glycerophosphate shuttle;
  • enzyme activity;
  • fibre types;
  • human skeletal muscle;
  • malate-aspartate shuttle;
  • physical training

The aim of the present study was to investigate enzyme levels of the malate-aspartate and alpha-glycerophosphate shuttles in type I (slow-twitch) and type II (fast-twitch) fibres of human skeletal muscle. The influence of endurance training on these levels was also elucidated. Biopsy specimens were obtained from the lateral part of the quadriceps femoris muscle of six untrained and six endurance-trained subjects.Type I vs. type II. In both groups the type I fibres exhibited higher levels of the TCA cycle marker enzyme citrate synthase (CS), as well as of the malate-aspartate shuttle enzymes (cytoplasmic and mitochondrial malate dehydrogenase (cMDH, mMDH), and aspartate aminotransferase (cASAT, mASAT)).A more pronounced difference between type I and type II fibres was noted for cMDH (58%) than for mMDH (16%), cASAT (20%), mASAT (18%) and CS (25%). In contrast to these enzymes, the levels of cytoplasmic glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (cGPDH), the enzyme representative of the alpha-glycerophosphate shuttle, were higher (25%) in the type II fibres.Endurance-trained vs. untrained. In the endurance-trained group, both fibre types were characterized by higher levels of CS (mean for both fibre types: 48%) as well as of mitochondrial malate-aspartate shuttle enzymes (mMDH: 47%, mASAT: 48%) than in the corresponding fibre types in the untrained group, while the differences in the levels of cytoplasmic malate-aspartate shuttle enzymes (cMDH: 13%, cASAT: 16%) were not statistically significant. Nor were the differences in cGPDH levels (8%) between the untrained and endurance-trained groups statistically significant. It is concluded that in human skeletal muscle, malate-aspartate shuttle enzymes are expressed to a higher degree in type I (slow) fibres than in type II (fast) fibres, with cMDH exhibiting the most marked difference. The single fibre analysis indicated that the muscle's activity level might exert a greater influence on the mitochondrial isoenzymes than on the cytoplasmic ones. In contrast to the malate-aspartate shuttle enzymes, the alpha-glycerophosphate shuttle is expressed to a higher degree in type II fibres and its capacity appears to not be influenced by endurance training. The present studies demanded considerable methodological investigations which also are presented in this paper.