Effect of active pre‐shortening on isometric and isotonic performance of single frog muscle fibres.

H. L. Granzier, G. H. Pollack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


1. We studied the effects of shortening history on isometric force and isotonic velocity in single intact frog fibres. Fibres were isometrically tetanized. When force reached a plateau, shortening was imposed, after which the fibre was held isometric again. Isometric force after shortening could then be compared with controls in which no shortening had taken place. 2. Sarcomere length was measured simultaneously with two independent methods: a laser‐diffraction method and a segment‐length method that detects the distance between two markers attached to the surface of the fibre, about 800 microns apart. 3. The fibre was mounted between two servomotors. One was used to impose the load clamp while the other cancelled the translation that occurred during this load clamp. Thus, translation of the segment under investigation could be minimized. 4. Initial experiments were performed at the fibre level. We found that active preshortening reduced isometric force considerably, thereby confirming earlier work of others. Force reductions as large as 70% were observed. 5. Under conditions in which there were large effects of shortening at the fibre level, we measured sarcomere length changes in the central region of the fibre. These sarcomeres shortened much less than the fibre's average. In fact, when the load was high, these sarcomeres lengthened while the fibre as a whole shortened. Thus, while the fibre‐length signal implied that sarcomeres might have shortened to some intermediate length, in reality some sarcomeres were much longer, others much shorter. 6. Experiments performed at the sarcomere level revealed that isometric force was unaffected by previous sarcomere shortening provided the shortening occurred against either a low load or over a short distance. However, if the work done during shortening was high, force after previous shortening was less than if sarcomeres had remained at the final length throughout contraction. The correlation between the force deficit and the work done during shortening was statistically significant (P = 0.0001). 7. Interrupting the tetanus for 0.5‐3.0 s did not reverse the effects of shortening on isometric force; at least 5‐10 min of rest were required before force recovered completely. 8. Sarcomeres accelerated during the period of shortening under constant load, indicating that the sarcomeres became progressively stronger. However, the acceleration was less than that predicted from the force‐velocity relation applicable at each of the sarcomere lengths transversed during shortening. 9. Velocity of shortening appeared to be much more sensitive to previous shortening than isometric force. 10. Results obtained with the diffraction method were the same as those obtained with the segment method.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-327
Number of pages29
JournalThe Journal of Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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