Imaging of muscle activity-induced morphometric changes in fibril network of myofascia by two-photon microscopy

Chayanit Chaweewannakorn, Takashi Harada, Mazvita R. Nyasha, Masashi Koide, Yosuke Shikama, Yoshihiro Hagiwara, Keiichi Sasaki, Makoto Kanzaki, Masahiro Tsuchiya

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Myofascia, deep fascia enveloping skeletal muscles, consists of abundant collagen and elastin fibres that play a key role in the transmission of muscular forces. However, understanding of biomechanical dynamics in myofascia remains very limited due to less quantitative and relevant approaches for in vivo examination. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the myofascial fibril structure by means of a quantitative approach using two-photon microscopy (TPM) imaging in combination with intravital staining of Evans blue dye (EBD), a far-red fluorescence dye, which potentially labels elastin. With focus on myofascia of the tibial anterior (TA) muscle, the fibril structure intravitally stained with EBD was observed at the depth level of collagen fibrous membrane above the muscle belly. The EBD-labelled fibril structure and orientation in myofascia indicated biomechanical responses to muscle activity and ageing. The orientation histograms of EBD-labelled fibrils were significantly modified depending upon the intensity of muscle activity and ageing. Moreover, the density of EBD-labelled fibrils in myofascia decreased with habitual exercise but increased with muscle immobilization or ageing. In particular, the diameter of EBD-labelled fibrils in aged mice was significantly higher. The orientation histograms of EBD-labelled fibrils after habitual exercise, muscle immobilization and ageing showed significant differences compared to control. Indeed, the histograms in bilateral TA myofascia of exercise mice made simple waveforms without multiple sharp peaks, whilst muscular immobilization or ageing significantly shifted a histogram with sustaining multiple sharp peaks. Therefore, the dynamics of fibre network with EBD fluorescence in response to the biomechanical environment possibly indicate functional tissue adaptation in myofascia. Furthermore, on the basis of the knowledge that neutrophil recruitment occurs locally in working muscles, we suggested the unique reconstruction mechanism involving neutrophilic elastase in the myofascial fibril structure. In addition to the elastolytic susceptibility of EBD-labelled fibrils, distinct immunoreactivities and activities of neutrophil elastase in the myofascia were observed after electric pulse stimulation-induced muscle contraction for 15 min. Our findings of EBD-labelled fibril dynamics in myofascia through quantitative approach using TPM imaging and intravital fluorescence labelling potentially brings new insights to examine muscle physiology and pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-526
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Mar


  • aging
  • elastin
  • multi-photon microscopy
  • muscular activity
  • myofascia
  • neutrophil elastase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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