Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Following extended periods of relative inactivity, or prior to migration, birds are able to increase the aerobic capacity of their locomotory muscles. Thyroid hormones may influence this process. A preliminary study was undertaken to assess the ability of elevated levels of thyroxine to increase the aerobic capacity of the locomotory and cardiac muscles of adult tufted ducks. Administration of thyroxine in the food for 8 weeks had little effect on body mass or on the masses of the pectoralis, semitendinosus and iliofibularis muscles, although there were increases in resting oxygen consumption and in the mass of the cardiac ventricles. The maximum activity of the aerobic enzyme, citrate synthase, was significantly greater in the left ventricle, liver, and iliofibularis muscles (P〈0.005) of treated birds. However, while there was clearly no difference in activity in the semimembranosus leg muscle, that of the pectoralis was not quite significant (P=0.078). It is concluded that addition of supra-physiological levels of exogenous thyroxine may induce a differential increase in the maximum activity of citrate synthase in the locomotor muscles of the tufted duck, which is correlated with the fibre type composition of these muscles. These results are consistent with those found in studies on rats, with slow oxidative fibres being the most sensitive, and fast glycolytic fibres the least sensitive, to thyroxine treatment.
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