One part is used to characterize the fibre type in respect of the heavy chain myosin isoform expressed. The other part of the fragment is analysed for high energy phosphate concentrations. Fibres are classified on the basis of expressing either type I, type IIA, or type IIX myosin heavy chain isoforms. It should be noted however that in the type II population many fibres co-express both IIA and the IIX isoforms and we therefore characterize these fibres on the basis of the degree of co-expression. We have used this technique to examine the time course of high energy phosphate concentration and fatigue in different fibre populations during exercise. The progressive reduction of power during maximal sprint efforts may be interpreted as the cumulative effect of metabolic depletion in successive fibre type populations from IIX to IIXa to IIAx to IIA to I. One important application of the micro-dissection technique is that PCr content may also be used as a very sensitive metabolic marker for fibre type recruitment during very short duration concentric, isometric and eccentric exercise
From the first biopsy single fibers were isolated and characterized as type I and II, and phosphocreatine-to-creatine (PCr/Cr) ratios and periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) stain intensities were measured. Cross sections were cut from the second biopsy, individual fibers were characterized as type I and II, and PAS stain intensities were measured. A decline in PCr/Cr ratio and in PAS stain intensity was used as indication of fiber recruitment. Within 1 min of exercise both type I and, although to a lesser extent, type II fibers were recruited. Furthermore, the PCr/Cr ratio revealed that the same proportion of fibers was recruited during the whole 45 min of exercise, indicating a rather constant recruitment. The PAS staining, however, proved inadequate to fully demonstrate fiber recruitment even after 45 min of exercise. We conclude that during cycling exercise a greater proportion of type II fibers is recruited than previously reported for isometric contractions, probably because of the dynamic character of the exercise. Furthermore, the PCr/Cr ratio method is more sensitive in determining fiber activation than the PAS stain intensity method.