Rigor and contracture: the role of phosphorus compounds and cytosolic Ca2+

  • G. J. M. Stienen
  • G. Elzinga
Part of the Developments in Cardiovascular Medicine book series (DICM, volume 104)


Since in the intact myocardium the effects of ischemia lead to changes in the composition of the sarcoplasm, the sarcoplasmic factors which affect mechanical performance in ischemia cannot effectively be studied at the level of complexity found in the intact cell. Much has been learned in this respect from skinned muscle preparations, i.e. preparations where the cellular membrane is made permeable so that the ‘intracellular’ composition can be controlled by the composition of the bathing solution. These studies show that the contractile apparatus is not only sensitive to calcium, which is essential for contraction, but also to pH, inorganic phosphate, ATP, and ADP amongst others.

Phosphate and acidification have a depressive effect on force production, which is more pronounced at the calcium levels, normally found in the beating heart, which do not cause maximum force production. ADP has a potentiating effect on force but it depresses shortening velocity, probably by acting as a competitive inhibitor of ATP induced crossbridge detachment. A decrease of ATP, in the presence of calcium, increases force until a concentration of about 100 μM is reached. When ATP drops even below this level, force decreases but never disappears as rigor develops at these low levels. Shortening velocity decreases when ATP falls. The ATPase activity related to contraction varies with Ca2+ concentration in proportion to force production. It is depressed by ADP at larger concentrations, and by ATP at low concentrations.


ATPase Activity Cardiac Muscle Force Production Myosin Head Actomyosin ATPase 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. J. M. Stienen
    • 1
  • G. Elzinga
    • 1
  1. 1.The Laboratory for PhysiologyFree UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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