Activation of muscle fibers in individual motor units revealed by 2-deoxyglucose-6-phosphate.
Motor units of the cat tibialis posterior muscle were selectively activated by prolonged electrical stimulation of functionally isolated motor axons in situ. During the activation, the glucose analog 2-deoxyglucose (DG) was administered systemically. Single muscle fibers were subsequently examined for accumulation of the metabolite 2-deoxyglucose-6-phosphate (DG6P) by an analytical assay and for depletion of glycogen by a PAS glycogen-specific staining reaction (periodic acid Schiff; PAS). In general, levels of DG6P were 20 times greater in unstained (PAS-negative) fibers compared with stained (PAS-positive) fibers. However, some glycogen-depleted fibers, particularly in putative ischemic fascicles of the muscle, did not have elevated DG6P, suggesting that depletion of glycogen is not always a reliable indicator of fiber activation. Furthermore, the PAS-staining reaction was not necessarily indicative of quantitative glycogen levels in single fibers. Thus, this report shows that DG6P accumulation enhances the identification of motor-unit fibers selectively activated via their common motor-nerve axon. Evidence is also presented for differential glucose uptake in muscle fibers of different phenotype, thereby indicating that the DG6P measurement in muscle has broad applicability to the investigation of cellular glucose utilization.