Spaceflight and growth effects on muscle fibers in the rhesus monkey

S. C. Bodine-Fowler, R. R. Roy, W. Rudolph, N. Haque, I. B. Kozlovskaya, V. R. Edgerton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Spaceflight causes considerable atrophy in hindlimb muscles of the rat. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of a 14-day spaceflight (COSMOS 2044) on selected morphological and metabolic properties of single muscle fibers in a nonhuman primate, Macaca mulatta. Biopsies were taken from the soleus (Sol), medial gastrocnemius (MG), and tibialis anterior (TA) muscles of two rhesus monkeys 107 days before flight and 24 h after return from flight. Muscle biopsies were taken from two independent sites in each muscle by use of a small (3-mm OD) Bergstrom biopsy needle. The biopsies weighed 8-14 mg and contained 100-200 fibers, of which an average of 40 fibers were acceptable for metabolic and size analyses. The 14-day spaceflight had little effect on fiber size in the Sol and MG muscles, whereas there appeared to be a slight decrease in size in the TA. In each of the flight animals, the mean fiber size in the postflight biopsies increased relative to preflight values. An increase in fiber size over the same period of time was also observed in four control monkeys that were the same age and approximately the same weight as the flight monkeys. The relative increase in size was related to the body weight of the monkey at the time of the pre- and postflight biopsies. The mean fiber succinate dehydrogenase activity appeared to decrease in the MG, whereas there was no apparent effect of spaceflight on the Sol and TA muscles. The apparent differences in the response of the Sol, MG, and TA to spaceflight in monkeys vs. rats may be related to a species responsiveness to spaceflight, the manner in which the animals were restrained, and/or the possibility that the ankle musculature was able to function against a load while in space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 1992


  • muscle biopsies
  • primates
  • succinate dehydrogenase
  • weightlessness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Spaceflight and growth effects on muscle fibers in the rhesus monkey'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this