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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 1986

Histochemical and enzymatic differences in skeletal muscle from Svalbard reindeer during the summer and winter.

Kiessling, Karl-Heinz; Kiessling, Anders; Nilssen, K; Andersson, IL


Enzyme activities and fibre properties in four muscles from Svalbard reindeer, collected during the summer, have been compared with corresponding muscles during the winter. In two muscles, gluteobiceps and semimembranosus, oxidative capacity is higher in winter than in summer; in the other two muscles, semitendinosus and longissimus dorsi, there is no difference with time of the year. The capacity to oxidize fatty acids is low in winter compared with summer, especially in semitendinosus and longissimus. These changes are similar in both sexes. Histochemical studies of the three main fibre types, I (BetaR), HA (°cR) and IIB (aW), from the four muscles show that in male reindeers the muscle fibres are narrower at the end of the winter season than during the summer. The decrease of muscle tissue amounts to about one third of the total volume (33%), of which I accounts for 5%, IIA for 2% and IIB for 26%. The results indicate that the Svalbard reindeer use lean tissue in general, and IIB fibres in particular, in order to survive the hostile arctic winter period at Svalbard.


Svalbard Reindeer, Starvation, Muscle fibres, Muscle enzyme activity

Published in

1986, volume: 6, number: 1, pages: 2-8

Authors' information

Kiessling, Karl-Heinz
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Nutrition and Management
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
Nilssen, K
University of Tromso, the Arctic University of Norway (UiT)
Andersson, IL
SLU - Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

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