Pflügers Archiv

, Volume 403, Issue 2, pp 197–204 | Cite as

Passive electrical properties and voltage dependent membrane capacitance of single skeletal muscle fibers

  • Shiro Takashima
Excitable Tissues and Central Nervous Physiology


The passive membrane capacitance and conductance of isolated single muscle fibers were investigated using a vaseline gap method. The results obtained with this method are consistent with those obtained using the microelectrode technique. It was confirmed that the membrane capacitance of skeletal muscle consisted of a large capacitance of tubular membrane (7–10 μF/cm2) and a much smaller capacitance of surface membrane (1–2 μF/cm2). The relative time constants of these two components vary from one sample to another, resulting in one time and two time constant behaviors.

Secondly, the capacitance of isolated skeletal muscle fibers was investigated during hyper- and depolarizing pulses, using the transient bridge technique with the vaseline gap method. Measurements were performed at two frequencies, i.e. 500 Hz and 20 kHz. It was found that the membrane capacitance increased by 15–20% with depolarizations. The voltage dependent membrane capacitance was no affected by the addition of tetrodotoxin in bathing solution blocking sodium current and muscle contraction. Also, blocking both Na and K current did not have an appreciable effect on the non-linear behavior of membrane capacitance. The origin of voltage dependent capacitance in muscle membrane appears to be distributed among several non-linear ionic processes such as Na and K currents and the flux of Ca and Cl ions and their accumulation.

Key words

Muscle membrane Voltage dependent capacitance Passive electrical properties 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adrian RH, Almers W (1976a) The voltage dependence of membrane capacity. J Physiol (Lond) 254:317–338Google Scholar
  2. Adrian RH, Almers W (1976b) Charge movement in the membrane of striated muscle. J Physiol (Lond), 254:339–360Google Scholar
  3. Almers W (1978) Gating currents and charge movements in excitable membranes. Rev Physiol Biochem Pharmacol 82:96–190Google Scholar
  4. Armstrong CM, Bezanilla F (1973) Currents related to movement of the gating particles of the sodium channels. Nature (Lond) 242:459–461Google Scholar
  5. Armstrong CM, Bezanilla F (1974) Charge movement associated with the opening and closing of the activation gates of the Na channels. J Gen Physiol 63:533–552Google Scholar
  6. Ashcroft FM, Stanfield PR (1981) Calcium dependence of the inactivation of calcium currents in skeletal muscle fibers of an insect. Science 213:224–226Google Scholar
  7. Campbell DT (1983) Sodium channel gating currents in frog skeletal muscle. J Gen Physiol 82:679–701Google Scholar
  8. Eisenberg RS, Gage PW (1967) Frog skeletal muscle fibers; changes in electrical properties after disruption of transverse tubular system. Science 158:1700–1701Google Scholar
  9. Eisenberg B, Eisenberg RS (1968) Selective disruption of the sacrotubular system in frog sartorius muscle. J Cell Biology 39: 451–467Google Scholar
  10. Falk G, Fatt P (1964) Linear electrical properties of striated muscle fibers observed with intracellular electrodes. Proc Roy Soc Ser B 160:69–123Google Scholar
  11. Fernandez JM, Bezanilla F, Taylor RE (1982) Distribution and kinetics of membrane dielectric polarization. J Gen Physiol 79:41–67Google Scholar
  12. Fishman HM, Moore LE, Poussart D, Leuchtag HR, Sanchez J (1977) No capacitance increase in squid axon admittance when “inactivation” of “gating charge” is insufficient. Biophys J 33: 281aGoogle Scholar
  13. Freygang WH, Jr, Rapopport SI, Peachey LD (1967) Some relations between changes in the linear electrical properties of striated muscle fibers and changes in ultrastructure. J Gen Physiol 50:2437–2458Google Scholar
  14. Gage PW, Eisenberg RS (1969a) Capacitance of the surface and transverse tubular membrane of frog sartorius fibers. J Gen Physiol 59:347–359Google Scholar
  15. Gage PW, Eisenberg RS (1969b) Action potentials, afterpotentials and excitation-contraction coupling in frog sartorious fibers without transverse tubules. J Gen Physiol 56:640–671Google Scholar
  16. Guttman R (1939) The electrical impedance of muscle during the action of narcotics and other agents. J Gen Physiol 22:567–591Google Scholar
  17. Hille B, Cambell DT (1976) An improved vaseline gap voltage clamp for skeletal muscle fibers. J Gen Physiol 67:265–293Google Scholar
  18. Hodgkin AL, Huxley AF (1952) A quantitative description of membrane current and its application to conduction and excitation in nerve. J Physiol (Lond) 117:500–544Google Scholar
  19. Hodgkin AL, Nakajima S (1972) The effect of diameter on the electrical constants of skeletal frog muscle fibers. J Physiol 221:105–120Google Scholar
  20. Horowicz P, Schneider MF (1981) Membrane charge movement in contracting and non-contracting skeletal muscle fibers. J Physiol 314:565–593Google Scholar
  21. Huang CLH (1981a) Dielectric components of charge movements in skeletal muscle. J Physiol 313:187–205Google Scholar
  22. Huang CLH (1981b) Membrane capacitance in hyperpolarized muscle fibers. J Physiol 313:206–222Google Scholar
  23. Keynes RD, Rojas E (1976) Kinetics and steady-state properties of the system controlling sodium conductance in the squid giant axon. J Physiol 239:393–434Google Scholar
  24. Meves H (1976) The effect of molding potential on the asymmetry currents in squid giant axons. J Physiol 254:787–801Google Scholar
  25. Meves H (1977) Activation, inactivation and chemical blockade of the gating current in squid giant axons. Ann NY Acad Sci 303:321–388Google Scholar
  26. Schneider MF, Chandler WK (1973) Voltage-dependent charge movement in skeletal muscle: A possible step in excitation-contraction coupling. Nature (Lond) 242:244–246Google Scholar
  27. Schneider MF, Chandler WK (1976) Effects of membrane potential on the capacitance of skeletal muscle fibers. J Physiol 67:125–163Google Scholar
  28. Schwan HP (1954) Die elektrischen Eigenschaften von Muskelgewebe bei Niederfrequenz. A Naturforsch 9b:245–251Google Scholar
  29. Takashima S (1978) Frequency domain analysis of asymmetry current in squid axon membrane. Biophys J 22:115–119Google Scholar
  30. Takashima S, Yantorno R (1977) Investigation of voltage-dependent membrane capacity of squid giant axons. Ann NY Acad Sci 303:306–321Google Scholar
  31. Takashima S, Schwan HP (1974) Passive electrical properties of squid axon membrane. J Membrane Biol 17:51–68Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shiro Takashima
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Bioengineering D3University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations