Force generation, but not myosin ATPase activity, declines with age in rat muscle fibers

Dawn A. Lowe, David D. Thomas, Ladora V. Thompson

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We tested the hypothesis that age-associated decline in muscle function is related to a change in myosin ATPase activity. Single, glycerinated semimembranosus fibers from young (8-12 mo) and aged (32-37 mo) Fischer 344 × Brown Norway male rats were analyzed simultaneously for force and myosin ATPase activity over a range of Ca2+ concentrations. Maximal force generation was ∼20% lower in fibers from aged animals (P = 0.02), but myosin ATPase activity was not different between fibers from young and aged rats: 686 ± 46 (n = 30) and 697 ± 46 μM/s (n = 33) (P = 0.89). The apparent rate constant for the dissociation of strong-binding myosin from actin was calculated to be ∼30% greater in fibers from aged animals (P = 0.03), indicating that the lower force produced by fibers from aged animals is due to a greater flux of myosin heads from the strong-binding state to the weak-binding state during contraction. This is in agreement with our previous electron paramagnetic resonance experiments that showed a reduced fraction of myosin heads in the strong-binding state during a maximal isometric contraction in fibers from older rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C187-C192
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number1 52-1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Actomyosin adenosinetriphosphate
  • Aging
  • Specific tension
  • Type II fibers


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