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Comput Biol Med. 2007 Nov;37(11):1572-81. Epub 2007 Apr 17.

Variability of the twitch parameters of the rat medial gastrocnemius motor units--experimental and modeling study.

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Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Centre of Biomedical Engineering, Acad. G. Bonchev Str., Bl.105, 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria.


In the present study a previously proposed model of a twitch based on an analytical function with four-parameters (lead, contraction and half-relaxation times and maximum force of the twitch) was validated on 115 motor units (MUs), divided into slow (S), fast-fatigue resistant (FR) and fast fatigable (FF) types. The original records were collected from electrophysiological experiments performed on MUs from the medial gastrocnemius muscle of five rats. Besides the easy calculation of the twitch parameters and their variability, the usefulness of the model was confirmed by eliminating artifacts and noise in the original twitch records, as well as by calculations of the velocity of force increase and decrease, the area under force records, and by normalization of all twitches with respect to the maximal force and contraction time. It was concluded that: (1) the four-parameter twitch model describes precisely the individual contractions of various MUs; (2) all physiological twitch parameters are distributed continuously and located within overlapping intervals for different MU types; this distribution is not linear, but exponential; (3) S MUs can be distinguished from fast ones on the basis of some twitch parameters (contraction and half-relaxation times, velocity of contraction), but the same cannot be applied for FF and FR MUs; (4) the analysis of the normalized twitches reveals the differences in shapes for different types of MUs, which shows that twitches of different MUs cannot be obtained from one standard pattern scaled in time and force. These results may have functional implications for studying effectiveness of twitch summation during tetanic contractions and the work performed by various types of MUs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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