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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2007 Sep;103(3):739-46. Epub 2007 Jun 14.

A novel technique for nonvolitional assessment of quadriceps muscle endurance in humans.

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  • 1Respiratory Muscle Laboratory, Royal Brompton Hospital, Fulham Rd., London SW3 6NP, United Kingdom.


Assessment of quadriceps endurance is of interest to investigators studying human disease. We hypothesized that repetitive magnetic stimulation (rMS) of the intramuscular branches of the femoral nerve could be used to induce and quantify quadriceps endurance. To test this hypothesis, we used a novel stimulating coil to compare the quadriceps endurance properties in eight normal humans and, to confirm that the technique could be used in clinical practice, in eight patients with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). To validate the method, we compared in vivo contractile properties of the quadriceps muscle with the fiber-type composition and oxidative enzyme capacity. We used a Magstim Rapid(2) magnetic nerve stimulator with the coil wrapped around the quadriceps. Stimuli were given at 30 Hz, a duty cycle of 0.4 (2 s on, 3 s off), and for 50 trains. Force generation and the surface electromyogram were measured throughout. Quadriceps twitch force, elicited by supramaximal magnetic stimulation of the femoral nerve, was measured before and after the protocol. Quadriceps muscle biopsies were analyzed for oxidative (citrate synthase, CS) and glycolytic (phosphofructokinase, PFK) enzyme activity and myosin heavy chain isoform protein expression. The time for force to fall to 70% of baseline (T(70)) was shorter in the COPD group than the control group: 55.6 +/- 26.0 vs. 121 +/- 38.7 s (P = 0.0014). Considering patients and controls together, positive correlations were observed between T(70) and the proportion of type I fibers (r = 0.68, P = 0.004) and CS-to-PFK ratio (CS/PFK) (r = 0.67, P = 0.005). We conclude that quadriceps endurance assessed using rMS is feasible in clinical studies.

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