We tested the hypotheses that 1) a decrease in activation of skeletal muscles at short sarcomere lengths (SLs) is caused by an inhibition of Ca2+ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR), and 2) the decrease in Ca2+ would be caused by an inhibition of action potential conduction from the periphery to the core of the fibers. Intact, single fibers dissected from the flexor digitorum brevis from mice were activated at different SLs, and intracellular Ca2+ was imaged with confocal microscopy. Force decreased at SLs shorter than 2.1 μm, while Ca2+ concentration decreased at SLs below 1.9 μm. The concentration of Ca2+ at short SL was lower at the core than at the peripheries of the fiber. When the external concentration of Na+ was decreased in the experimental media, impairing action potential conduction, Ca2+ gradients were observed in all SLs. When caffeine was used in the experimental media, the gradients of Ca2+ were abolished. We concluded that there is an inhibition of Ca2+ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) at short SLs, which results from a decreased conduction of action potential from the periphery to the core of the fibers.
- confocal microscopy
- single fibers
- flexor digitorum brevis
- sarcomere length
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