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J Biomech. 1986;19(11):943-50.

Fatigue in isometric contraction in a single muscle fibre: a compartmental calcium ion flow model.


Fatigue in muscle is a complex biological phenomenon which has so far eluded a definite explanation. Many biochemical and physiological models have been suggested in the literature to account for the decrement in the ability of muscle to sustain a given level of force for a long time. Some of these models have been critically analysed in this paper and are shown to be not able to explain all the experimental observations. A new compartmental model based on the intracellular calcium ion movement in muscle is proposed to study the mechanical responses of a muscle fibre. Computer simulation is performed to obtain model responses in isometric contraction to an impulse and a train of stimuli of long duration. The simulated curves have been compared with experimentally observed mechanical responses of the semitendinosus muscle fibre of Rana pipiens. The comparison of computed and observed responses indicates that the proposed calcium ion model indeed accounts very well for the muscle fatigue.

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