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Pflugers Arch. 1986 May;406(5):458-63.

Potassium and sodium shifts during in vitro isometric muscle contraction, and the time course of the ion-gradient recovery.


Intracellular potassium ([K+]i), interstitial potassium ([K+]inter), intracellular sodium ([Na+]i), and resting membrane potential (RMP) were measured before and after repetitive stimulation of mouse soleus and EDL (extensor digitorum longus) muscles. At rest, RMP was -69.8 mV for soleus and -74.9 mV for EDL (37 degrees C). [K+]i was 168 mM and 182 mM, respectively. In soleus, free [Na+]i was 12.7 mM. After repetitive stimulation (960 stimuli) RMP had decreased by 11.9 mV for soleus and by 18.2 mV for EDL. [K+]i was reduced by 32 mM and 48 mM, respectively, whereas [K+]inter was doubled. In soleus [Na+]i had increased by 10.6 mM, demonstrating that the [K+]i-decrease is three times higher than the [Na+]i-increase. It is concluded that this difference reflects different activity induced movements of Na and K, and that the difference is not due to the Na/K pumping ratio. The possible involvement of the potassium loss in muscle fatigue is discussed. After stimulation RMP recovered with a time constant of 0.9 min for soleus and 1.5 min for EDL. Within the first minutes after stimulation the intracellular potassium concentration increased by 20.4 mM/min for soleus and 21.7 mM/min for EDL. Free [Na+]i decreased with less than 10 mM/min. The mechanisms underlying the different rate of changes are discussed.

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