Role of Intracellular pH in Muscle Fatigue

Document Type




Format of Original

6 p.

Publication Date



American Physiological Society

Source Publication

Journal of Applied Physiology

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1152/jappl.1987.62.4.1392


Intracellular pH of in vitro diaphragm preparations was determined following low- (5 Hz, 1.5 min) and high- (75 Hz, 1 min) frequency stimulation, using glass microelectrodes of the liquid membrane type (pHm). Results were compared with values obtained by the standard homogenate technique (pHh). High- and low-frequency stimulation reduced peak tetanic tension to 21 ± 1 (SE) and 71 ± 2% of initial values, respectively. Peak tetanic tension returned to resting values after 10- to 15-min recovery from high- or low-frequency stimulation. Resting pHm was 7.063 ± 0.011 (n = 72), and after fatiguing stimulation declined to values as low as 6.33. During recovery pHm significantly increased and by 10 min had returned to prefatigue values. No difference was observed in the recovery of pHm between the low- and high-frequency stimulation groups (analysis of variance test, ANOVA), and in both groups pHm recovery was highly correlated to the recovery of peak tetanic tension (r = 0.94, P < 0.001). Resting pHh was 7.219 ± 0.023 (n = 13), which was significantly higher than the pHm value. In contrast to pHm, intracellular pHh was significantly higher during recovery from 75- vs. 5-Hz stimulation (P < 0.05). For both groups pHh increased significantly with time and by 10 min returned to prestimulation values. The ANOVA test demonstrated that pHh values were significantly higher than pHm values during recovery from fatigue. The results from this study support our hypothesis that fatigue from both high- and low-frequency stimulation is at least partially due to the deleterious effects of intracellular acidosis on excitation-contraction coupling.


Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol. 62, No. 4 (April 1987): 1392-1397. DOI.