Coexistence of twitch potentiation and tetanic force decline in rat hindlimb muscle.
An experimental protocol designed to assess fatigability in motor units has been applied to two hindlimb muscles of anesthetized adult rats to study the effects of whole-muscle fatigue on the isometric twitch. Both soleus and extensor digitorum longus exhibited a linear relationship between fatigability (i.e., force decline after a 360-s fatigue test) and the magnitude of the twitch force following the fatigue test. Twitch force after the fatigue test was potentiated (i.e., greater than the value before the fatigue test) in many muscles, despite the development of considerable fatigue. This coexistence of fatigue and twitch potentiation was observed in 7% (5/70) of soleus and 48% (31/64) of extensor digitorum longus muscles. The coexistence was exhibited only by the least fatigable muscles of the fast-contracting extensor digitorum longus. The extensor digitorum longus muscles that did not exhibit twitch potentiation probably experienced a higher proportion of muscle-fiber inactivation, such as due to failure of neuromuscular propagation, that was induced by the fatigue regimen.