The Relationship Between Short-Range Stiffness and Yielding in Type- Identified, Chemically Skinned Muscle Fibers from the Cat Triceps Surae Muscles. Malamud, Jean G., Robert E. Godt, T. Richard Nichols. Departments of Physiology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322 and Physiology and Endocrinology, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA.
APStracts 3:0122N, 1996.
1. Transient, stretch-evoked force responses of chemically skinned muscle fibers from the cat hindlimb were investigated. The purpose of these experiments was to determine the exent to which short range stiffness, the apparent stiffness exerted by the fiber over the first 0.5% of length change, is higher in type I than type II muscle fibers. Fibers were obtained from (a) soleus and vastus intermedius muscles, which contain predominantly type I fibers, (b) the LGm, a compartment of the lateral gastrocnemius muscle, which contains predominantly type II fibers, and (c) LG3, a compartment of mixed type. 2. Beyond a short range of approximately 1% of muscle length during a 0.5 muscle length/s (ML/s) stretch, most fibers exhibited an abrupt decrease in apparent stiffness, or yield. Fibers from the muscles containing predominantly type S (slow twitch, or type I) fibers, soleus and vastus intermedius, exhibited such a pronounced decline in apparent stiffness that force declined as well during continued stretch. Most of the fibers from the LG3 compartment could be divided into two distinct groups depending upon whether or not they showed a force yield at the stretch velocity of 0.5 ML/s. 3. The short-range stiffness measured over the first 0.5% of stretch was greater for fibers showing force yield than for those which did not at matched initial forces and normalized stretch amplitudes. This result is consistent with the hypothesis that the same mechanism which endows the fiber with high short range stiffness is also responsible for a greater extent of yielding. 4. Fibers from soleus were found to exhibit a force yield over a 200-fold range of velocities (0.01 - 2 ML/s). In contrast, most fibers from the LGm compartment showed only an increase in extent of yield with stretch velocity. Some of these fibers eventually yielded in force, but only when they were stretched at velocities greater than 2 ML/s. The proposed relationship between high short-range stiffness and yielding was supported by the finding that short-range stiffness increased sharply in the range of velocities where the fiber showed the greatest increase in extent of yield. 5. Following the physiological experiments, fibers were subjected to SDS gel electrophoresis. Two distinct patterns of bands in the low molecular weight range were found to correspond to the two types that were identified on the basis of their dynamic mechanical properties. Fibers which did not yield at 0.5 ML/s showed a band pattern very similar to that of rabbit psoas (type II) fibers. 6. These results support the hypothesis that type I fibers are specialized in presenting a high short-range stiffness for effective postural control in advance of reflex mechanisms, and that this property results from intrinsic properties of the fiber and is not due to differences in the dimensions of type I and II fibers. Yielding serves to protect the fiber from damaging levels of force during lengthening contractions. The importance of these transient properties to the mechanical behavior of muscle during ongoing movements is suggested by the observation that high stiffness followed by yielding is repeated with little alteration during successive stretches.

Received 6 November 1996; accepted in final form 29 May 1996.
APS Manuscript Number J749-5.
Article publication pending J. Neurophysiol.
ISSN 1080-4757 Copyright 1996 The American Physiological Society.
Published in APStracts on 17 June 96