View Full Version : Summary of responses: Non-invasive determination of muscle fibretype

11-09-2007, 12:29 AM
Dear community,

Since I have been asked for, below you will find a summary of response
concerning my query about non-invasive determination of muscle
fibre-type distribution.

According to the responses it still seems that there is no state-of-the
art method for determining in vivo muscle fibre-type distribution,
although it is of great interest. As you will see in the answers there
are several methods that have been considered. They can be summarized as

- Strenght-tests (e.g. isokinetic testing, rate of force
development, strength endurance tests, collection of F-v-R data, jumping

- Tensiomyography/Mechanomyography: A newly developed method to
determine muscle contractile properties

- Derivation from MRI data

(see original answers and reference list at the end of this email)

Although some of the above methods are validated by muscle biopsy, the
question remains which one will be accepted by reviewers of outstanding
journals, if trying to separate two populations with majoritarian
fast-twitch and slow twitch fibres, respectively?

Last but not least, I would like to thank all those who replied to my

Best regards,
Department of Biomechanics in Sport
Technische Universität München
Faculty of Sport Science

Tel. +49 89 2892458 3
Email: d.hahn@sp.tum.de


Dear community,

we are looking for a non-invasive method to determine the in vivo muscle
fibre-type distribution of quadriceps femoris muscle in man. We do not
need an exact distribution (i.e. percentage of slow and fast fibres) but
we would like to distinguish between human subjects with majoritarian
fast-twitch and slow twitch fibres, respectively.

Reviewing the literatur in this regard, we found some proposals for
testprocedures to determine muscle fibre-type distribution (e. g.
strength endurance test, collection of F-v-R data, jumping tests).
However, I was wondering that there is apparently no state-of-the-art
method for determining in vivo muscle fibre-type distribution that is
reliable and validated (including reference values).

So, if you have any ideas or experience concerning our query, it would
be of great help!


1. Hi,

A very interesting question to ask but I am not sure if you know of any
method to determine the fibre type distribution. If surface EMG or any
other non-invasive test is to be used then there must be a "gold
available for validating that method.

I know of some pattern recognition techniques that may be suitable for
kind of study but how will they be validated?

Hamid Rassoulian

2. Good afternoon Daniel,

In our project we are looking at the mechanical properties of muscle
tissue and are using non-invasive imaging (MRI). We use Anatomical MRI
to get the muscle geometry, Diffusion Tensor MRI to record the fiber
directions and Tagged MRI to record muscle deformation due to an
externally applied load.

Currently the muscle fiber type distribution is not really of interest
to us and I am not aware of such a technique either. However I think it
may be possible to derive this information from MRI data. Diffusion
tensor imaging is widely used in imaging of the fibers in the brain but
also for muscle see for instance Heemskerk et al. 2005, "Determination
of Mouse Skeletal Muscle Architecture" :
(others are Damon et al. Donkerlaar et al. etc.)

Diffusion Tensor MRI is a well validated technique and allows mapping of
the 3D fiber arrangement of skeletal muscles. Although this technique
does not directly provide information on the types of muscle fibers, it
may be possible to derive this from (maybe other) MRI data. Maybe
combining the anatomical MRI data with the Diffusion Tensor data allows
one to map the distribution of the different types of muscle cells. I
found this paper after a quick search: Houmard et al. 1995:
'Relationship between MRI relaxation time and muscle fiber composition'.
So just thinking out loud here this would suggest that one can map the
3D fiber type distribution by combining anatomical and Diffusion Tensor
MRI. This is just an idea though but if the MRI signal for the different
types of muscle fibers is different then it is possible.

Maybe it is worth checking our MRI methods anyway.

Good luck, since our project also involves non-invasive imaging of
skeletal muscle I'd be interested in any responses you get to your

Kevin Moerman

3. Dear Daniel,

You should looking for Tensiomyography. It is a new device that detect
fibre-type distribution. I do not know to much about it, so you might
ask to any specialist.

Good look



4. Hi Daniel

Although it's not non-invasive. The method we have used in the past is
to take muscle biopsy samples from volunteers and perform
electroporation on Myosin Heavy Chains. This is outlined by Bramman.
Easier and quicker than immuno-histology methods. We found gender
specific differences in the human biopsy samples.

Marcas M. Bamman, Mark S. F. Clarke, Robert J. Talmadge and Daniel L.
Enhanced protein electrophoresis technique for
separating human skeletal muscle myosin heavy
chain isoforms
Electrophoresis 1999, 20, 466-468


Dr Paul O'Callaghan

5. Dear Daniel,

I too would like to be able to determine fibre type distribution
non-invasively. Methods I have considered include isokinetic testing,
rate of force development and some serum specific markers, all of these
I have used following exercise induced muscle damage studies but are not
appearing to be sensitive enough because as you would be aware human
muscle variation in fibre type is only ~5% - from biopsy studies.

Unfortunately I am unable to help you directly with your request but
would greatly appreciate a summary response on the biomech list-server
or direct response on what your query turns up.

Dale Chapman

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2005; Oskouei & Herzog 2005; Gorelick & Brown 2007; Sargeant 2007)

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