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Biophys J. 1988 Jun;53(6):935-46.

Effects of pH on contraction of rabbit fast and slow skeletal muscle fibers.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


We have investigated (a) effects of varying proton concentration on force and shortening velocity of glycerinated muscle fibers, (b) differences between these effects on fibers from psoas (fast) and soleus (slow) muscles, possibly due to differences in the actomyosin ATPase kinetic cycles, and (c) whether changes in intracellular pH explain altered contractility typically associated with prolonged excitation of fast, glycolytic muscle. The pH range was chosen to cover the physiological pH range (6.0-7.5) as well as pH 8.0, which has often been used for in vitro measurements of myosin ATPase activity. Steady-state isometric force increased monotonically (by about threefold) as pH was increased from pH 6.0; force in soleus (slow) fibers was less affected by pH than in psoas (fast) fibers. For both fiber types, the velocity of unloaded shortening was maximum near resting intracellular pH in vivo and was decreased at acid pH (by about one-half). At pH 6.0, force increased when the pH buffer concentration was decreased from 100 mM, as predicted by inadequate pH buffering and pH heterogeneity in the fiber. This heterogeneity was modeled by net proton consumption within the fiber, due to production by the actomyosin ATPase coupled to consumption by the creatine kinase reaction, with replenishment by diffusion of protons in equilibrium with a mobile buffer. Lactate anion had little mechanical effect. Inorganic phosphate (15 mM total) had an additive effect of depressing force that was similar at pH 7.1 and 6.0. By directly affecting the actomyosin interaction, decreased pH is at least partly responsible for the observed decreases in force and velocity in stimulated muscle with sufficient glycolytic capacity to decrease pH.

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