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Muscle Nerve. 1994 Sep;17(9):1002-9.

Metabolic and nonmetabolic components of fatigue monitored with 31P-NMR.

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Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco 94121.


The goal of this study was to determine the roles of metabolic and nonmetabolic factors in muscle fatigue. Rat gastrocnemius muscles were fatigued by stimulation of the nerve (n = 6) or muscle (n = 4, after 2 days of denervation). 31Phosphorus nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to measure levels of intracellular inorganic phosphate (Pi) and hydrogen ions (H+) (which are thought to inhibit contraction) and the high-energy phosphates, phosphocreatine (PCr), and ATP. For both indirect and direct stimulation, with fatigue to approximately 60% initial tetanic force, [Pi] increased from approximately 3.5 mmol/L to approximately 20 mmol/L and [PCr] decreased from approximately 27 mmol/L to approximately 9 mmol/L. However, with continued fatigue to 25-35% initial tetanic force, neither [Pi] or [PCr] changed further. [ATP] and pH changed only slightly during fatigue. The results are consistent with early fatigue arising from metabolic inhibition of contraction; but later fatigue arising independent of metabolites, due to impaired activation beyond the neuromuscular junction.

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