Influence of food consistency on the rabbit masseter muscle fibres

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The plasticity of the masseter muscle was studied by comparing two groups of rabbits that were fed soft- and hard-diet for 87 d. Incisors of the soft-diet group were cut back to minimize the bite forces. Muscle fibres were immunohistochemically defined as fast- or slow-contracting fibres and their cross-sectional area was measured. The muscles of animals fed with the hard-diet were composed of fibres with larger cross-sectional areas than the soft-diet group. The relative difference was larger in slow-contracting fibres than in fast-contracting fibres. The results were similar for the different regions of the muscle. No changes in fibre composition were found. In conclusion, the difference in food consistency, as induced in this study, caused changes in the muscle fibre cross-sectional area that can be recognized from the altered necessary occlusal forces, which result from the modified forces developed by the masseter muscle.

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