Fatigue from high- and low-frequency muscle stimulation: Role of sarcolemma action potentials

J. M. Metzger, R. H. Fitts

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This study compared the effect of high- (75 Hz, 1 min) and low- (5 Hz, 1.5 min) frequency stimulation on sarcolemmal action potentials of rat phrenic nerve-diaphragm preparations, measured in vitro at 25°C. High-frequency stimulation reduced peak tetanic tension to 21 ± 1% (x ± SE) of initial, whereas 5 Hz stimulation produced less of a decline (71 ± 2% of initial). Despite an initial faster rate of force recovery after 75-Hz stimulation, tetanic tension was still significantly depressed at 0.25 and 1 min relative to the values after 5-Hz stimulation (P < 0.05). Resting membrane potential, and action potential overshoot and area were not significantly altered by fatigue. Action potential amplitude (AMP) was initially depressed by repetitive stimulation but increased significantly during recovery (P < 0.05). No significant difference occurred in AMP recovery between the high- vs. low-frequency stimulation groups. The rate of rise and fall of the action potential was reduced after fatiguing stimulation but increased significantly with time (P < 0.05). Moreover, the time to peak height of the action potential was prolonged by fatigue but significantly declined to resting values with time (P < 0.05). During recovery, fatigue from high-frequency stimulation was associated with a greater prolongation in duration and time to baseline of the action potential relative to low-frequency stimulation (P < 0.05). Action potential variables altered by stimulation generally recovered within 1 to 3 min, whereas peak tetanic tension did not completely return to resting values until 10 to 15 min of recovery. We conclude that high- and low-frequency stimulation elicits virtually identical perturbations in sarcolemmal action potentials, and thus changes in surface membrane properties cannot explain the decreased tetanic tension that follows 75-Hz stimulation. It appears that events distal to the sarcolemma are responsible for fatigue from both high- and low-frequency stimulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-333
Number of pages14
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1986

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
University Regular Research Grant 56 17. R.H.F. was the recipient of a National Institutes of Health Career Development Award (AM 008 10). J.M.M. was the recipient ofa Marquette University Fellowship.

Funding Information:
Abbreviations: AMP-action potential amplitude; DUR-duration; E-C-excitation-contraction; &,-membrane potential; OS-overshoot; RF, RR-rate of fall, rise; TB, TP-time to baseline, peak. ’ We thank Barbara DeNoyer for her help in the preparation of this manuscript. This research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (S07RR 07 196), and Marquette

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