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    No ageing-related increase in fibre type grouping in sprint-trained masters runners: a 10-year follow-up study

    Messa, Guy Anselme Mpaka, Korhonen, Marko T ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2550-0784 and Degens, Hans ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7399-4841 (2024) No ageing-related increase in fibre type grouping in sprint-trained masters runners: a 10-year follow-up study. Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle. ISSN 2190-5991

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    Abstract

    Background Previous research suggests that an ageing-associated remodelling and loss of motor units due to motor neuron death contributes significantly to muscle weakness in old age. In histological sections, motor unit remodelling is reflected by increased fibre type grouping. While regular exercise may not attenuate the loss of motor units during ageing, it has been suggested to facilitate reinnervation resulting in larger motor units, and a higher number and larger fibre type groups in histological sections of muscles from aged individuals. Methods In a 10-year follow-up study, we assessed changes in the prevalence and size of fibre type groups in the vastus lateralis muscle from 34 male masters sprinters (40–85 years at start). Results Over the 10 years, there was an ageing-related reduction in performance in the 60-m sprint (P < 0.001) without significant changes in fibre type composition and fibre cross-sectional area. Neither the number of fibre type groups, defined as a fibre surrounded exclusively by fibres of the same type, nor the group size changed significantly in the 10-year period. Conclusions These histological data show that there is limited to no significant fibre type grouping over a 10-year period in masters athletes who continued sprint run training. This observation challenges the paradigm that ageing, at least in systematically trained sprinters, is associated with motor unit remodelling.

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