Margriet Lodder completed this work in Amsterdam as part of her PhD research under the direction of Professor Anthony Sargeant
The data from these studies are examined in the light of the force velocity characteristics of human type I and type II muscle fibres. The ‘plasticity’ of fibre properties is discussed with reference to the ‘acute’ changes elicited by exercise induced fatigue and changes in muscle temperature and ‘chronic’ changes occurring following intensive training and ageing
However, total RNA content per gram of a particular fiber type may differ as well. We have tested this possibility in the distinct fiber types of adult rat skeletal muscle. Sections of single fibers were hybridized against 28S rRNA as a marker for RNA content. Quantification of the hybridization showed that the 28S rRNA content decreases in the order I>IIA>IIX>IIB, where Type I fibers show a five- to sixfold higher expression level compared to Type IIB fibers. Results were verified with an independent biochemical determination of total RNA content performed on pools of histochemically defined freeze-dried single fibers. In addition, the proportion of myosin heavy chain (MHC) mRNA per microgram of total RNA was similar in slow and fast fibers, as demonstrated by Northern blot analysis. Consequently, Type I fibers contain five- to sixfold more MHC mRNA per microgram of tissue than IIB fibers. These differences are not reflected in the total fiber protein content. This study implies that proper assessment of mRNA levels in skeletal muscle requires evaluation of total RNA levels according to fiber type composition
Records obtained from isokinetic releases from maximal isometric tetani showed a late linear phase of force decline, and this was extrapolated back to the time of release to obtain measures of instantaneous force. This method gave usable data up to velocities of shortening equivalent to approximately one-third of maximal velocity. An alternative procedure (short activation, SA) allowed the muscle to begin shortening when isometric force reached a value that could be sustained during shortening (essentially an isotonic protocol). At low velocities both protocols gave very similar data (r2 = 0.96), but for high velocities only the SA procedure could be used. Results obtained using the SA protocol in fresh muscle were compared to those for muscle that had been fatigued by 25 s of ischaemic isometric contractions, induced by electrical stimulation at the ulnar nerve. Fatigue resulted in a decrease of isometric force [to 69 (3)%], an increase in half-relaxation time [to 431 (10)%], and decreases in maximal shortening velocity [to 77 (8)%] and power [to 42 (5)%]. These are the first data for human skeletal muscle to show convincingly that during acute fatigue, power is reduced as a consequence of both the loss of force and slowing of the contractile speed.
For maximal power measurements the system can be instantly switched to an isokinetic control mechanism which allows a constant pedalling rate to be set in the range of 23-180 rev.min-1. In both operating modes the forces generated on the pedals are monitored by strain-gauges mounted inside the pedals. This enables information to be obtained regarding the direction of forces generated at the foot-pedal interface. The output from the strain-gauges was A-D converted and stored along with data giving pedal and crank position. Data was sampled 150 times in each revolution of the crank. Force data are usually analysed for maximal peak power (highest instantaneous power generated during each revolution), mean power (power generated over a complete revolution), extension and flexion power (power generated during leg extension and leg flexion respectively). This system allows characterisation of the relationship between maximal leg power and pedalling rate, both under control and exercise-induced potentiation and fatigue conditions. Thus it is possible for example to quantify instantly the magnitude of fatigue induced by preceding dynamic exercise of a given duration, intensity or contraction velocity.