REVIEW ARTICLE

European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 83, Issue 2, pp 166-174

First online:

Functional significance of Ca2+ in long-lasting fatigue of skeletal muscle

  • Håkan WesterbladAffiliated withDepartment of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden e-mail: hakan.westerblad@fyfa.ki.se Fax: +46-8-327026
  • , Joseph D. BrutonAffiliated withDepartment of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden e-mail: hakan.westerblad@fyfa.ki.se Fax: +46-8-327026
  • , David G. AllenAffiliated withDepartment of Physiology F13, Institute for Biomedical Science, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
  • , Jan LännergrenAffiliated withDepartment of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden e-mail: hakan.westerblad@fyfa.ki.se Fax: +46-8-327026

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Abstract

Repeated activation of skeletal muscle causes fatigue, which involves a reduced ability to produce force and slowed contraction regarding both the speed of shortening and relaxation. One important component in skeletal muscle fatigue is a reduced sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+ release. In the present review we will describe different types of fatigue-induced inhibition of SR Ca2+ release. We will focus on a type of long-lasting failure of SR Ca2+ release which is called low-frequency fatigue, because this type of fatigue may be involved in the muscle dysfunction and chronic pain experienced by computer workers. Paradoxically it appears that the Ca2+ released from the SR, which is required for contraction, may actually be responsible for the failure of SR Ca2+ release during low-frequency fatigue. We will also discuss the relationship between gross morphological changes in muscle fibres and long-lasting failure of SR Ca2+ release. Finally, a model linking muscle cell dysfunction and muscle pain is proposed.

Key words Fatigue Skeletal muscle Calcium Sarcoplasmic reticulum