Contractile benefits of doublet-initiated low-frequency stimulation in rat extensor digitorum longus muscle exposed to high extracellular [K+] or fatiguing contractions

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During dynamic contractions, high-frequency muscle activation is needed to achieve optimal power. This must be balanced against an increased excitation-induced accumulation of extracellular K+, which can reduce excitability and ultimately may prevent adequate responses to high-frequency activation. Mean activation frequencies in vivo are often low (subtetanic), but activation patterns contain bursts of high (supratetanic) frequencies known as doublets, which enhance dynamic contraction in rested muscles at normal extracellular K+ concentration ([K+]o). Here, we examine how dynamic contractions in fast-twitch fibers stimulated by high frequency/doublets are affected during exposure to 11 mM [K+]o and during fatigue. Dynamic contractions were elicited by electrical stimulation in isolated rat extensor digitorum longus muscles incubated at 4 or 11 mM K+. When stimulation frequency was maintained constant, an increase from 150 to 300 Hz enhanced maximal power (Pmax), maximal velocity (Vmax), and rate of force development (RFD) at 4 mM K+ but only Vmax at 11 mM K+. With the use of subtetanic frequency trains (50 Hz) with or without an initiating doublet (300 Hz), the addition of a doublet increased maximal force, Pmax, Vmax, and RFD at both 4 and 11 mM K+. Furthermore, a work-matched fatiguing protocol was performed comparing a doublet-initiated subtetanic train (DT) of 60 Hz with a constant-frequency train (CFT) of 71 Hz during 100 dynamic contractions. We found that DT produced higher power, velocity, and RFD than CFT throughout the fatiguing protocol. The results indicate that doublets enhance dynamic contraction in fast-twitch muscles stimulated at subtetanic frequency during both normal and fatiguing conditions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican journal of physiology. Cell physiology
Volume317
Issue1
Pages (from-to)C39-C47
Number of pages9
ISSN0363-6143
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • doublets, elevated extracellular potassium, fatigue, power, rate of force development

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