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Effect of caffeine on skeletal muscle function before and after fatigue.


We studied the effect of caffeine on voluntary and electrically stimulated contractions of the adductor pollicis muscle in five adult volunteers. Caffeine (500 mg) was administered orally in a double-blind fashion. Electrical stimulation of the ulnar nerve was performed at 10, 20, 30, 50, and 100 Hz before and after a sustained voluntary contraction held at 50% of the maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). A brief tetanus at 30 Hz was also performed to calculate relaxation rate in the fresh muscle. Contractile properties, relaxation rate, and endurance were then assessed after caffeine and placebo, as well as the response of the fatigued muscle to different frequencies of stimulation. There was no difference in the maximal tension obtained with electrical stimulation (T100) or in the MVC between placebo and caffeine. The tensions developed with electrical stimulation at lower frequencies increased significantly with caffeine ingestion, shifting the frequency-force curve to the left, both before and after fatigue. Mean plasma caffeine concentration associated with these responses was 12.2 +/- 4.9 mg/l. We conclude that caffeine has a direct effect on skeletal muscle contractile properties both before and after fatigue as demonstrated by electrical stimulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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