Ultrastructural changes at the myotendinous junction induced by exercise

Hiroshi Kojima, Eisuke Sakuma, Yoshio Mabuchi, Jun Mizutani, Osamu Horiuchi, Ikuo Wada, Mitsuya Horiba, Yutaka Yamashita, Damon C. Herbert, Tsuyoshi Soji, Takanobu Otsuka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background. Although exercise is believed to reduce the risk of rupture of the myotendinous junction, exercise-induced structural changes in this region have not been studied. We examined exercise-induced ultrastructural changes in the myotendinous junction of the lower legs in rats. Methods. Ten adult male LETO rats were used. Five rats were randomly placed in the Exercise group; the remaining five were used as controls and placed in the non-Exercise group. Running exercise was performed every day for 4 weeks. The tibialis anterior and gastrocnemius muscles were then removed from both legs from each animal in the two groups. The specimens were subsequently examined by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Numerous finger-like processes were observed at the myotendinous junction. The changes in frequency of branching of the finger-like process (the number of times one finger-like process branched) and the direction of the processes (the angle of the major axis of a finger-like process to the longitudinal direction of the muscle fiber) were studied. To evaluate the two indicators above, each 10 fingerlike process was randomly and separately selected from the tibialis anterior and gastrocnemius muscles of rats, providing 50 finger-like processes of both muscles for evaluation per group. Results. In terms of the frequency of branching of the fingerlike processes, the mean values obtained in the non-Exercise group were 0.04 and 0.18 times, respectively, in the tibialis anterior and gastrocnemius muscles and were 0.38 and 1.16 times, respectively, in these two muscles in the Exercise group. Regarding the direction of the finger-like processes, the values were 4.1° and 3.6°, respectively in the non-Exercise group and 10.4° and 14.5°, respectively in the Exercise group. The differences between the two animal groups were significant. Conclusions. Morphological changes in the myotendinous junction occurred as an adaptation to tension increased by exercise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-239
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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