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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005 Dec;1066:286-94.

Na+-K+ pump stimulation improves contractility in damaged muscle fibers.

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Institute of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Aarhus, Ole Worms Alle 160, Universitetsparken, DK-8000 Arhus C., Denmark.


Skeletal muscles have a high content of Na+-K+-ATPase, an enzyme that is identical to the Na+-K+ pump, a transport system mediating active extrusion of Na+ from the cells and accumulation of K+ in the cells. The major function of the Na+-K+ pumps is to maintain the concentration gradients for Na+ and K+ across the plasma membrane. This generates the resting membrane potential, allowing the propagation of action potentials, excitation-contraction coupling and force development. Muscles exposed to (1) high extracellular K+ or (2) low extracellular Na+ show a considerable loss of force. A similar force decline is elicited by (3) increasing Na+ permeability or (4) decreasing K+ permeability. Under all of these four conditions, stimulation of the Na+-K+ pumps can restore contractility. Following exposure to electroporation or fatiguing stimulation, muscle cell membranes develop leaks to Na+ and K+ and a partially reversible loss of force. The restoration of force is abolished by blocking the Na+-K+ pumps and markedly improved by stimulating the Na+-K+ pumps with beta 2-agonists, calcitonin gene-related peptide, or dbcAMP. These observations indicate that the Na+-K+ pumps are important for the functional compensation of the commonly occurring loss of muscle cell integrity. Stimulation of the Na+-K+ pumps with beta 2-agonists or other agents may be of therapeutic value in the treatment of muscle cell damage induced by electrical shocks, prolonged exercise, burns, or bruises.

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