Histology of Muscle Development in Pigs, Epigenetics from Myotubes to Tapered Fibres


  • Howard J. Swatland University of Guelph, Canada




Pig muscle growth, Myotubes, Tapered fibres, Light scattering in pork


Pre-natal muscle development in pigs starts with myotubes (axial nuclei in a tube of myofibrils) and secondary fibres (peripheral nuclei on an axial strand of myofibrils). By the time of birth, the nuclei of myotubes move to a peripheral position like secondary fibres. As pre-natal secondary fibres grow in length, the number of fibres in a transverse section may appear to increase. This stereology may also occur in post-natal muscles that have tapered fibres anchored in endomysial connective tissue around adjacent fibres and with one or both ends not reaching the end of their fasciculus. Up to 100 days gestation, Peroneus longus (no tapered fibres) had larger (P < 0.001) diameter secondary fibres than Longissimus thoracis (with tapered fibres). Up to 100 days gestation, no radial growth of secondary fibres was detected, but myotubes decreased in diameter (P < 0.001).  From a curve showing the relative numbers of myotubes and secondary fibres, it was deduced that approximately 80% of muscle fibres in pigs are derived from secondary fibres. In post-natal Sartorius muscle there was an increase (P < 0.005) in the apparent number of muscle fibres attributed to longitudinal growth of tapered fibres. Myotubes located centrally within their fasciculi had the same position as slow-contracting fibres with a high myoglobin content in adult muscle. Post-natal changes in muscle fibre histochemistry were achieved through transitional types, probably neurally regulated rather than by differential longitudinal growth of tapered endings. Secondary fibres are important – they give rise to both the majority of muscle fibres in adult pigs and affect subsurface optical pathways and pork colourimetry.

Author Biography

Howard J. Swatland, University of Guelph, Canada

University Emeritus Professor


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How to Cite

Swatland, H. J. (2021). Histology of Muscle Development in Pigs, Epigenetics from Myotubes to Tapered Fibres. Asian Journal of Agriculture and Food Sciences, 9(6). https://doi.org/10.24203/ajafs.v9i6.6800