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Can J Appl Physiol. 2004 Jun;29(3):308-29.

The sarcoplasmic reticulum in muscle fatigue and disease: role of the sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase.

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Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario.


Skeletal muscles induced to contract repeatedly respond with a progressive loss in their ability to generate a target force or power. This condition is known simply as fatigue. Commonly, fatigue may persist for prolonged periods of time, particularly at low activation frequencies, which is called low-frequency fatigue. Failure to activate the contractile apparatus with the appropriate intracellular free calcium ([Ca2+]f) signal contributes to fatigue but the precise mechanisms involved are unknown. The sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) is the major organelle in muscle that is responsible for the regulation of [Ca2+]f, and numerous studies have shown that SR function, both Ca2+ release and Ca2+ uptake, is impaired following fatiguing contractile activity. The major aim of this review is to provide insight into the various cellular mechanisms underlying the alterations in SR Ca2+ cycling and cytosolic [Ca2+]f that are associated both with the development of fatigue during repeated muscle contraction and with low-frequency or long-lasting fatigue. The primary focus will be on the role of the sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA) in normal muscle function, fatigue, and disease.

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