The steady state isometric force after active shortening of a skeletal muscle is lower than the purely isometric force at the corresponding length. This property of skeletal muscle is known as force depression. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the energy cost of force production at the steady state after active shortening was reduced compared to the energy cost of force production for a purely isometric contraction performed at the corresponding length (same length, same activation). Experiments were performed in skinned fibres isolated from rabbit psoas muscle. Skinned fibres were actively shortened from an average sarcomere length of 3.0 µm to an average sarcomere length of 2.4 µm. Purely isometric reference contractions were performed at an average sarcomere length of 2.4 µm. Simultaneously with the force measurements, the ATP cost was measured during the last 30 seconds of isometric contractions using an enzyme-coupled assay. Stiffness was calculated during a quick stretch-release cycle of 0.2% fibre length performed once the steady state had been reached after active shortening and during the purely isometric reference contractions. Force and stiffness following active shortening were decreased by 10.0±1.8% and 11.0±2.2%, respectively compared to the isometric reference contractions. Similarly, ATPase activity per second (not normalized to the force) showed a decrease of 15.6±3.0% in the force depressed state compared to the purely isometric reference state. However, ATPase activity per second per unit of force was similar for the isometric contractions following active shortening (28.7±2.4 mM/mN.s.mm3) and the corresponding purely isometric reference contraction (30.9±2.8 mM/mN.s.mm3). Furthermore, the reduction in absolute ATPase activity per second was significantly correlated with force depression and stiffness depression. These results are in accordance with the idea that force depression following active shortening is primarily caused by a decrease in the proportion of attached cross bridges. Furthermore, these findings, along with previously reported results showing a decrease in ATP consumption per unit of force after active muscle stretching, suggest that the mechanisms involved in the steady state force after active muscle shortening and active muscle lengthening are of distinctly different origin.
- Received November 29, 2014.
- Accepted February 1, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd