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Am J Physiol. 1993 Sep;265(3 Pt 1):C792-800.

Effects of repeated eccentric contractions on structure and mechanical properties of toad sartorius muscle.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.


It has been proposed that lengthening of active muscle at long lengths is nonuniformly distributed between sarcomeres, with a few being stretched beyond overlap and most hardly being stretched at all. A small fraction of the overstretched sarcomeres may fail to reinterdigitate on subsequent relaxation, leading to progressive changes in the muscle's mechanical properties. Sartorius muscles of the toad Bufo marinus were subjected to repeated lengthening (eccentric) contractions at long lengths, while controls were passively stretched and then contracted isometrically or stretched at short lengths. The muscles undergoing eccentric contractions showed a progressive shift to the right of the length-tension curve, a fall in the yield point during stretch, an increase in slope of the tension response during stretch, and a fall in isometric tension. In control muscles, changes, if any, were significantly less. In electron micrographs, muscle fibers that had been subjected to a series of eccentric contractions showed sarcomeres with A bands displaced toward one half-sarcomere, leaving no overlap in the other half. Adjacent regions often looked normal. These results are all in agreement with the predictions of the nonuniform stretch of sarcomeres hypothesis.

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