Objective—To determine the effect of growth and training on metabolic properties in muscle fibers of the gluteus medius muscle in adolescent Thoroughbred horses.
Animals—Twenty 2-year-old Thoroughbreds.
Procedure—Horses were randomly assigned to 2 groups. Horses in the training group were trained for 16 weeks, and control horses were kept on pasture without training. Samples were obtained by use of a needle-biopsy technique from the middle gluteus muscle of each horse before and after the training period. Composition and oxidative enzyme (succinic dehydrogenase [SDH]) activity of each fiber type were determined by use of quantitative histochemical staining procedures. Whole-muscle activity of SDH and glycolytic enzyme (phosphofructokinase) as well as myosin heavy-chain isoforms were analyzed biochemically and electrophoretically, respectively.
Results—The SDH activity of type-I and -IIA fibers increased during growth, whereas whole-muscle activity was unchanged. Percentage of type-IIX/B muscle fibers decreased during training, whereas that of myosin heavy-chain IIa increased. The SDH activity of each fiber type as well as whole-muscle SDH activity increased during training. An especially noticeable increase in SDH activity was found in type-IIX/B fibers.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Changes in muscle fibers of adolescent Thoroughbreds are caused by training and not by growth. The most noticeable change was for the SDH activity of type-IIX/B fibers. These changes in the gluteus medius muscle of adolescent Thoroughbreds were considered to be appropriate adaptations to running middle distances at high speeds. (Am J Vet Res 2002;63:1408–1412)