Added mass in rat plantaris muscle causes a reduction in mechanical work


Ross SA, Rimkus B, Konow N, Biewener AA, Wakeling JM. Added mass in rat plantaris muscle causes a reduction in mechanical work. Journal of Experimental Biology. 2020;223 (19).


Most of what we know about whole muscle behaviour comes from experiments on single fibres or small muscles that are scaled up in size without considering the effects of the additional muscle mass. Previous modelling studies have shown that tissue inertia acts to slow the rate of force development and maximum velocity of muscle during shortening contractions and decreases the work and power per cycle during cyclic contractions; however, these results have not yet been confirmed by experiments on living tissue. Therefore, in this study we conducted in situ work-loop experiments on rat plantaris muscle to determine the effects of increasing the mass of muscle on mechanical work during cyclic contractions. We additionally simulated these experimental contractions using a mass-enhanced Hill-type model to validate our previous modelling work. We found that greater added mass resulted in lower mechanical work per cycle relative to the unloaded trials in which no mass was added to the muscle (P=0.041 for both 85 and 123% increases in muscle mass). We additionally found that greater strain resulted in lower work per cycle relative to unloaded trials at the same strain to control for length change and velocity effects on the work output, possibly due to greater accelerations of the muscle mass at higher strains. These results confirm that tissue mass reduces muscle mechanical work at larger muscle sizes, and that this effect is likely amplified for lower activations.

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