This study examined the effects of chronic corticosterone (CORT) treatment on the morphology of two physiologically different muscles. Nerve terminals from the slow twitch soleus (SOL) and fast twitch extensor digitorum longus (EDL) of Fischer 344 rats were stained using the zinc iodide osmium (ZIO) technique. Nerve terminal area, perimeter, and logitudinal extent legth were measured using computer‐aided morphometry. Slow and fast muscle fibers from animals which received 5–10 mg CORT per day for 3 months were atrophied compared with controls. Treated animals failed to gain weight during the study, while controls gained 37%. Adrenal weights in treated animals were 30% less than controls, after correction for body weight. Morphological parameters for SOL nerve terminals were generally larger in the CORT group, while EDL nerve terminals from the CORT group did not differ significantly from controls. Soleus nerve terminal area was 43% greater, perimeter 14% longer, and logitudinal extent length 18% longer than the control nerve terminals. This study demonstrates a greater effect of CORT treatment on slow twitch muscle than has been demonstrated in previous studies. Changes in the nerve terminal morphology of the SOL were also greater than in previous studies and suggest that a functional adaptation or remodelling may occur following CORT treatment to maintain the neuromuscular interface during the enhanced catabolic effects of the steroid. These steroid‐induced stress changes are similar in some respects to those observed in aging and disuse studies of the vertebrate neuromuscular junction. This suggests that glucocorticoid hormones may play an etiological role in the homeostasis of the neuromuscular junction in response to various stimuli.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)