Torben Clausen

The Na+,K+ pump and muscle excitability

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  • Department of Physiology and Biophysics
  • Department of Sport Science
In most types of mammalian skeletal muscles the total concentration of Na+,K+ pumps is 0.2-0.8 nmol g wet wt(-1). At rest, only around 5% of these Na+,K+ pumps are active, but during high-frequency stimulation, virtually all Na+,K+ pumps may be called into action within a few seconds. Despite this large capacity for active Na+,K+ transport, excitation often induces a net loss of K+, a net gain of Na+, depolarization and ensuing loss of excitability. In muscles exposed to high [K+]o or low [Na+]o, alone or combined, excitability is reduced. Under these conditions, hormonal or excitation-induced stimulation of the Na+,K+ pump leads to considerable force recovery. This recovery can be blocked by ouabain and seems to be the result of Na+,K+ pump induced hyperpolarization and restoration of Na+,K+ gradients. In muscles where the capacity of the Na+,K+ pump is reduced, the decline in the force developing during continuous electrical stimulation (30-90 Hz) is accelerated and the subsequent force recovery considerably delayed. The loss of endurance is significant within a few seconds after the onset of stimulation. Increased concentration of Na+ channels or open-time of Na+ channels is also associated with reduced endurance and impairment of force recovery. This indicates that during contractile activity, excitability is acutely dependent on the ratio between Na+ entry and Na+,K+ pump capacity. Contrary to previous assumptions, the Na+,K+ pump, due to rapid activation of its large transport capacity seems to play a dynamic role in the from second to second ongoing restoration and maintenance of excitability in working skeletal muscle.
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Physiologica (Print)
Pages (from-to)183-90
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1998

    Research areas

  • Animals, Humans, Muscle Contraction, Muscle, Skeletal, Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase

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