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Friday 01 July 2005

Effects of lactic acid and catecholamines on contractility in fast-twitch muscles exposed to hyperkalemia.

By: Hansen AK, Clausen T, Nielsen OB.

Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 2005 Jul;289(1):C104-12

Intensive exercise is associated with a pronounced increase in extracellular K+ ([K+]o). Because of the ensuing depolarization and loss of excitability, this contributes to muscle fatigue. Intensive exercise also increases the level of circulating catecholamines and lactic acid, which both have been shown to alleviate the depressing effect of hyperkalemia in slow-twitch muscles. Because of their larger exercise-induced loss of K+, fast-twitch muscles are more prone to fatigue caused by increased [K+]o than slow-twitch muscles. Fast-twitch muscles also produce more lactic acid. We therefore compared the effects of catecholamines and lactic acid on the maintenance of contractility in rat fast-twitch [extensor digitorum longus (EDL)] and slow-twitch (soleus) muscles. Intact muscles were mounted on force transducers and stimulated electrically to evoke short isometric tetani. Elevated [K+]o (11 and 13 mM) was used to reduce force to approximately 20% of control force at 4 mM K+. In EDL, the beta2-agonist salbutamol (10(-5) M) restored tetanic force to 83 +/- 2% of control force, whereas in soleus salbutamol restored tetanic force to 93 +/- 1%. In both muscles, salbutamol induced hyperpolarization (5-8 mV), reduced intracellular Na+ content and increased Na+-K+ pump activity, leading to an increased K+ tolerance. Lactic acid (24 mM) restored force from 22 +/- 4% to 58 +/- 2% of control force in EDL, an effect that was significantly lower than in soleus muscle. These results amplify and generalize the concept that the exercise-induced acidification and increase in plasma catecholamines counterbalance fatigue arising from rundown of Na+ and K+ gradients.

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