1. The function of mitochondria, sarcotubular membranes (heavy microsomes), sarcolemma and myofibrils from the hind-leg skeletal muscle of about 60- and 150-day-old normal and myopathic (UM-X7.1) hamsters was examined.
2. The mitochondrial calcium uptake as well as mitochondrial phosphorylation and respiratory rates were lower in 60-day-old myopathic skeletal muscle, unlike 150-day-old myopathic animals, when pyruvate-malate and glutamate-malate were used as substrates. However, mitochondria from 150-day-old myopathic animals showed depressed glutamate-dependent respiratory and phosphorylation rates and succinate-supported initial rate of calcium uptake.
3. The microsomal calcium-uptake, but not calcium-binding, and Ca2+-stimulated adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase) activity of the 150-day-old myopathic skeletal muscle were lower than the control values. Although microsomal calcium-binding, calcium-uptake and ATPase activities of the 60-day-old myopathic muscle were not depressed significantly, the initial rate of calcium uptake was less than the control.
4. The sarcolemmal Ca2+-ATPase, but not Mg2+-ATPase or Na+ +K+-ATPase, activity was higher in 60-day-old myopathic muscle whereas the activities of all these enzymes from 150-day-old myopathic animals were higher than the control. On the other hand, the Na+ +K+-ATPase activities from 60- and 150-day-old myopathic animals were inhibited by ouabain to a lesser extent in comparison with the respective control values.
5. The myofibrillar Ca2+-ATPase and Mg2+-ATPase activities as well as inhibition of Mg2+-ATPase due to Na+ and K+ in myopathic muscle were no different from the control values.
6. The results reported here give further support to the view that different membrane systems of the dystrophic muscle are defective.