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Environ Med. 2002 Dec;46(1-2):17-27.

"DRY" immersion induces neural and contractile adaptations in the human triceps surae muscle.

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Department of Neurophysiology, SRC-Institute of Biomedical Problems, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia.


The effects of 7-days of simulated spaceflight, achieved with the technique of "dry" water immersion, on human triceps surae muscle function have been investigated in six subjects. After immersion, the maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) was reduced by 19% (p<0.01), and the electrically evoked (150 Hz) maximal tetanic contraction (Po) was reduced by 8% (p>0.05). The difference between Po and MVC expressed as a percentage of Po and referred to as force deficiency has also been calculated. The force deficiency increased by 44% (p<0.01) after immersion. The decrease in Po was associated with increased maximal rates of tension development (7.2%) and of tension relaxation. The twitch time-to-peak was not significantly changed, and half relaxation and total contraction time were decreased by 5% and 3%, respectively, but the twitch tension (Pt) was not significantly changed and the Pt/Po ratio was decreased by 9%. The 60-s intermittent contractions (50 Hz) decreased tetanic force to 57% (p<0.05) of initial values, but force reduction was not significantly different in the two fatigue tests: fatigue index was 36.2 +/- 5.4% vs. 38.6 +/- 2.8%, respectively (p>0.05). While identical force reduction was present in the two fatigue test it would appear that concomitant electrical failure was considerably different. Comparison of the electrical and mechanical responses alterations recorded during voluntary contractions, and in contractions evoked by electrical stimulation of the motor nerve, suggests that immersion not only modifies the peripheral processes associated with contraction, but also changes central and/or neural command of the contraction. At peripheral sites, it is proposed that the intracellular processes of contraction play a role in the contractile impairment recorded during immersion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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