INTRODUCTION: Skeletal muscle is changed after stroke, but conflicting data exist concerning muscle morphology and oxidative enzyme capacity.
METHODS: In 36 chronic stroke patients bilateral rectus femoris muscle biopsies were analyzed, and fiber type proportions and cross-sectional areas were determined by ATPase histochemistry. Enzymatic concentrations of citrate synthase (CS) and 3-Hydroxyacyl-coenzymeA-dehydrogenase (HAD) were determined using freeze-dried muscle tissue. Findings were correlated with clinical outcomes.
RESULTS: In the paretic muscles the mean fiber area was smaller (P = 0.0004), and a lower proportion of type 1 fibers (P = 0.0016) and a higher proportion of type 2X fibers (P = 0.0002) were observed. The paretic muscle had lower CS (P = 0.013) and HAD concentrations (P = 0.037). Mean fiber area correlated with muscle strength (r = 0.43; P = 0.041), and CS concentration correlated with aerobic capacity (r = 0.47; P = 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: In stroke survivors there is a phenotypic shift toward more fatigable muscle fibers with reduced oxidative enzymatic capacity that relates to clinical outcomes.