Late depression of muscle excitability in humans after fatiguing stimulation.
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1. Changes in muscle excitation and in isometric twitch force have been studied for up to 8 h after fatiguing stimulation of the human biceps brachii. 2. Within 10 s of a cessation of the 20 Hz fatiguing tetanus, the amplitudes of the M waves (muscle compound action potentials) had returned to control values, whereas the twitch forces were reduced in all subjects. The M waves then decreased in amplitude over the next 3 h, reaching a mean value that was 42.4 +/- 18.6% of control levels (means +/- S.E.M.; P < 0.001). 3. By 8 h, the mean M wave amplitude had recovered to 93.8 +/- 33.3% of control levels, while the corresponding mean twitch force was 104.1 +/- 36.9%. 4. The cellular mechanism responsible for the depression of the M wave is presently unknown, but it is likely to be postsynaptic and may involve Na+ channels.
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