An optimized histochemical method to assess skeletal muscle glycogen and lipid stores reveals two metabolically distinct populations of type I muscle fibers

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Skeletal muscle energy metabolism has been a research focus of physiologists for more than a century. Yet, how the use of intramuscular carbohydrate and lipid energy stores are coordinated during different types of exercise remains a subject of debate. Controversy arises from contradicting data from numerous studies, which used different methodological approaches. Here we review the "pros and cons" of previously used histochemical methods and describe an optimized method to ensure the preservation and specificity of detection of both intramyocellular carbohydrate and lipid stores. For optimal preservation of muscle energy stores, air drying cryosections or cycles of freezing-thawing need to be avoided. Furthermore, optimization of the imaging settings in order to specifically image intracellular lipid droplets stained with oil red O or Bodipy-493/503 is shown. When co-staining lipid droplets with associated proteins, Bodipy-493/503 should be the dye of choice, since oil red O creates precipitates on the lipid droplets blocking the light. In order to increase the specificity of glycogen stain, an antibody against glycogen is used. The resulting method reveals the existence of two metabolically distinct myosin heavy chain I expressing fibers: I-1 fibers have a smaller crossectional area, a higher density of lipid droplets, and a tendency to lower glycogen content compared to I-2 fibers. Type I-2 fibers have similar lipid content than IIA. Exhaustive exercise lead to glycogen depletion in type IIA and IIX fibers, a reduction in lipid droplets density in both type I-1 and I-2 fibers, and a decrease in the size of lipid droplets exclusively in type I-1 fibers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)e77774
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Bibliographical note


Number of downloads are based on statistics from Google Scholar and

No data available

ID: 110099180