Regulation of human muscle contraction at the cellular and molecular levels

Research paper by L. Larsson, P. Höök, P. Pircher

Indexed on: 01 Dec '99Published on: 01 Dec '99Published in: Italian journal of neurological sciences


The rat is the most extensively characterized species with regard to the regulation of muscle contraction and myofibrillar protein isoform expression, but there is reason to question whether results from small mammals, such as the rat, can be extrapolated directly to larger mammals, such as man. Studies of human muscle contraction have primarily used different in vivo muscle function measurements, i.e. measurements of force at different speeds of movement during electrical stimulation or voluntary activation. These measurements give important information on overall muscle function, but they are of limited value for our understanding of regulation of muscle contraction. In basic science, cellular- and molecular-physiological methods have been used for many years, but these techniques have so far only rarely been used in studies of human muscle contraction. Detailed studies of human muscle contraction can be performed in the short muscle fibre segments obtained by the percutaneous muscle biopsy technique both at the cellular and molecular level. The skinned fibre preparation in combination with a novel in vitro motility assay offers a unique possibility to investigate regulation of human muscle contraction at the cellular and molecular levels in the same muscle cell segment in both health and disease, i.e. in muscle cells characterized according to the type amount of expressed myofibrillar protein isoforms.