Mechanisms of force failure during repetitive maximal efforts in a human upper airway muscle

Christiana DelloRusso, Nilam Khurana, Lucinda Rankin, Jenna Sullivan, Ralph F. Fregosi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The upper airway respiratory muscles play an important role in the regulation of airway resistance, but surprisingly little is known about their contractile properties and endurance performance. We developed a technique that allows measurement of force and the electromyogram (EMG) of human nasal dilator muscles (NDMs). Endurance performance was quantified by measuring NDM "flaring" force and EMG activity as healthy human subjects performed 10 s maximal voluntary contractions (MVCs), separated by 10 s rest, until the area under the force curve fell to 50% MVC (the time limit of the fatigue task, Tlim), which was reached in 34.2 ± 3.1 contractions (685.0 ± 62.3 s). EMG activity was unchanged except at Tlim, where it averaged 78.7 ± 3.6% of pretest activity (P < 0.01). M-wave amplitude did not change, suggesting that neuromuscular propagation was not impaired. MVC force increased to 80% of the pretest level within 10 min of recovery but twitch force failed to recover, suggesting low-frequency fatigue. The data suggest that a failure of the nervous system to excite muscle could explain at most only a small fraction of the NDM force loss during an intermittent fatigue task, and then only at Tlim. Thus, the majority of the force failure during this task is due to impairment of mechanisms that reside within the muscle fibers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-100
Number of pages7
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Airway muscle
  • Contractile properties
  • Facial nerve
  • Nasal muscles
  • Neurophysiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Physiology (medical)


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