Effect of Hindlimb Unloading on Rat Soleus Fiber Force, Stiffness, and Calcium Sensitivity

Document Type




Format of Original

7 p.

Publication Date



American Physiological Society

Source Publication

Journal of Applied Physiology

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1152/jappl.1995.79.5.1796


The purpose of this study was to examine the time course of change in soleus muscle fiber peak force (N), tension (Po, kN/m2), elastic modulus (Eo), and force-pCa and stiffness-pCa relationships. After 1, 2, or 3 wk of hindlimb unloading (HU), single fibers were isolated and placed between a motor arm and a transducer, and fiber diameter, peak absolute force, Po, Eo, and force-pCa and stiffness-pCa relationships were characterized. One week of HU resulted in a significant reduction in fiber diameter (68 +/- 2 vs 57 +/- 1 microns), force (3.59 +/- 0.15 vs. 2.19 +/- 0.12 x 10(-4) N), Po (102 +/- 4 vs. 85 +/- 2 kN/m2), and Eo (1.96 +/- 0.12 vs. 1.37 +/- 0.13 x 10(7) N/m2), and 2 wk of HU caused a further decline in fiber diameter (45 +/- 1 microns), force (1.31 +/- 0.06 x 10(-4) N), and Eo (0.96 +/- 0.09 x 10(7) N/m2). Although the mean fiber diameter and absolute force continued to decline through 3 wk of HU, Po recovered to values not significantly different from control. The Po/Eo ratio was significantly increased after 1 (5.5 +/- 0.3 to 7.1 +/- 0.6), 2, and 3 wk of HU, and the 2-wk (9.5 +/- 0.4) and 3-wk (9.4 +/- 0.8) values were significantly greater than the 1-wk values. The force-pCa and stiffness-pCa curves were shifted rightward after 1, 2, and 3 wk of HU. At 1 wk of HU, the Ca2+ sensitivity of isometric force, assessed by Ca2+ concentration required for half-maximal force, was increased from the control value of 1.83 +/- 0.12 to 2.30 +/- 0.10 microM. In conclusion, after HU, the decrease in soleus fiber Po can be explained by a reduction in the number of myofibrillar cross bridges per cross-sectional area. Our working hypothesis is that the loss of contractile protein reduces the number of cross bridges per cross-sectional area and increases the filament lattice spacing. The increased spacing reduces cross-bridge force and stiffness, but Po/Eo increases because of a quantitatively greater effect on stiffness.


Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol. 79, No. 5 (November 1995): 1796-1802. DOI.