This research carried out in Amsterdam under the direction of Professor Anthony J Sargeant demonstrated how within the same anatomical muscle there can be quiet different physiological properties in different areas of the same muscle. This work was part of the PhD research of Jo de Ruiter supervised by Professor Tony Sargeant and Arnold de Haan.
Repeated force production and metabolites in two medial gastrocnemius muscle compartments of the rats
This research was part of the PhD thesis of CJ (Jo) de Ruiter. It shows how within a single muscle there may be marked regional differences in physiological characteristics implying task dependent differences in recruitment patterns of motor units. The work was carried out under the direction of Anthony J Sargeant and Arnold de Haan.
Physiological characteristics of two extreme muscle compartments in gastrocnemius medialis of the anaesthetized rat
Reductions were found in both optimal stimulation frequency (from 120 to 100 Hz) and optimal shortening velocity (by 16%) indicating that the fibres became slower. Specific power did not change during growth but was obtained at a lower shortening velocity. Possible mechanisms for the observed changes are discussed
Rat medial gastrocnemius muscle-tendon complexes (with arrested blood flow) performed a series of ten repeated contractions (1.s-1) with either an active stretch or an isometric phase preceding the shortening. Contraction duration (0.45 s), and shortening duration (0.3 s), distance (6 mm) and velocity (20 mm.s-1) were the same in both types of contraction. Work output during the ten shortening phases was approximately 40% higher in the contractions with an active pre-stretch; in contrast, high-energy phosphate utilization was similar. Over the ten repeated contractions reduction of work output during the shortening phases of both types of contraction was similar in absolute terms (approx. 9.5 mJ). It is suggested that all the extra work performed during the shortening phases after a pre-stretch originated from sources other than cross-bridge cycling, which are hardly affected by fatigue. However, reduction of work output in relative terms, which is how the reduction is often expressed in voluntary exercise, was less after a pre-stretch (26% vs 32%), giving the impression of protection against fatigue by an active pre-stretch.
The muscle was freeze-clamped immediately after these contractions, and high-energy phosphate consumption was determined by measuring intramuscular chemical change relative to control muscles. The average values (±SD) of efficiency calculated for 60, 90, and 150 Hz were 18.5 ± 1.5 (n = 7), 18.6 ± 1.5 (n = 9), and 14.7 ± 1.3 mJ/μmol phosphate (n = 9). The results indicate that the efficiency of the muscles that were submaximally activated (60 or 90 Hz) was higher (+26%,P < 0.05) than that of those maximally activated (150 Hz). Additional experiments showed that the low efficiency at maximal activation levels is unlikely to be the result of a higher energy turnover by the Ca2+-ATPase relative to the total energy turnover. Therefore, alternative explanations are discussed.
In the transition from the 1st to the 10th contractions, the fascicular length at 80% of MVC decreased from 34 +/- 4 (means +/- SD) to 30 +/- 3 mm (P < 0.001), the pennation angle increased from 35 +/- 3 to 42 +/- 3 degrees (P < 0.001), the myotendinous junction displacement increased from 5 +/- 3 to 10 +/- 3 mm (P < 0.001), and the average fascicular curvature remained constant (P > 0.05) at approximately 4.3 m(-1). No changes (P > 0.05) were found in fascicular length, pennation angle, and myotendinous junction displacement after the fifth contraction. Electrogoniometry showed that the ankle rotated by approximately 6.5 degrees during contraction, but no differences (P > 0.05) were obtained between contractions. The present results show that repeated contractions induce tendon creep, which substantially affects the geometry of the in-series contracting muscles, thus altering their potential for force and joint moment generation.