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J Biomech. 1989;22(1):21-31.

Strain-induced reorientation of an intramuscular connective tissue network: implications for passive muscle elasticity.

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Muscle Biology Department, AFRC Institute of Food Research, Bristol Laboratory, Langford, U.K.


The most abundant intramuscular connective tissue component, the perimysium, of bovine M. sternomandibularis muscle was shown to be a crossed-ply arrangement of crimped collagen fibres which reorientate and decrimp on changing muscle fibre sarcomere length. Reorientation of perimysial strands was observed by light microscopy and identification of these strands as collagen fibres was confirmed by high-angle X-ray diffraction. Mean collagen fibre direction with respect to the muscle fibres ranged from approximately 80 degrees at sarcomere length = 1.1 micron to approximately 20 degrees at 3.9 microns. This behaviour was well described by a model of a crimped planar network surrounding a muscle fibre bundle of constant volume but varying length. Modelling of the mechanical properties of the perimysium at different sarcomere lengths produced a load-sarcomere length curve which was in good agreement with the passive elastic properties of the muscle, especially at long sarcomere lengths. It is concluded that the role of the perimysial collagen network is to prevent over-stretching of the muscle fibre bundles.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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