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Effects of perinatal high dose dexamethasone on skeletal muscle development in rats.

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  • Research Article


Five litters of suckling rats were given either dexamethasone (DEX), 1 mg/kg, subcutaneously, three times daily (n = 4/litter) or vehicle control (n = 4/litter) from day 3 through day 7 after birth. Rats were weighed weekly and were weaned on day 30. On day 60, rats were killed and the soleus (SOL) and extensor digitorum longus (EDL) were removed for the following analyses: 1) wet weight, 2) light microscopic examination of hematoxylin and eosin stained transverse sections, 3) quantitative morphometric analysis of myosin ATPase stained transverse sections (fiber numbers, fiber type percentages and mean fiber diameters), and 4) DNA (total and mg/g wet weight). The following parameters were significantly reduced in treated rats: 1) body weight, 2) wet weight of SOL and EDL, and 3) mean diameter of SOL type I fibers. There was a trend for total DNA of SOL and EDL to be decreased in treated rats but this was not statistically significant. In a second experiment, pregnant rats (n = 4) were given DEX, 1 mg/kg, subcutaneously, twice daily, on days 17 and 18 of gestation. Two rats served as vehicle controls. The prenatally DEX-exposed rats weighed significantly less on weeks 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8. There were significant reductions in the following parameters for treated rats: 1) SOL wet weight, and 2) total number of SOL type I fibers. There was a trend for SOL DNA to be reduced but this was not statistically significant.

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