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Braz J Med Biol Res. 2000 May;33(5):499-508.

Coexistence of potentiation and fatigue in skeletal muscle.

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Laboratório de Fisiologia, Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, São Leopoldo, RS, Brasil.


Twitch potentiation and fatigue in skeletal muscle are two conditions in which force production is affected by the stimulation history. Twitch potentiation is the increase in the twitch active force observed after a tetanic contraction or during and following low-frequency stimulation. There is evidence that the mechanism responsible for potentiation is phosphorylation of the regulatory light chains of myosin, a Ca2+-dependent process. Fatigue is the force decrease observed after a period of repeated muscle stimulation. Fatigue has also been associated with a Ca2+-related mechanism: decreased peak Ca2+ concentration in the myoplasm is observed during fatigue. This decrease is probably due to an inhibition of Ca2+ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum. Although potentiation and fatigue have opposing effects on force production in skeletal muscle, these two presumed mechanisms can coexist. When peak myoplasmic Ca2+ concentration is depressed, but myosin light chains are relatively phosphorylated, the force response can be attenuated, not different, or enhanced, relative to previous values. In circumstances where there is interaction between potentiation and fatigue, care must be taken in interpreting the contractile responses.

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