Theories of Muscular Contraction

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SINCE Lundsgaard showed that the contractile mechanism can work without production of lactic acid and that this acid, when formed, appears mainly, perhaps entirely, after contraction is over, the one remaining important chemical change, the breakdown of phosphagen (phosphocreatine) is generally supposed to precede and cause contraction. This view, however, scarcely accounts properly for the observed behaviour of muscles poisoned with iodoacetate. In such muscles, when stimulated in nitrogen, exhaustion of the phosphagen supply brings to an end the only available exothermic reaction and the muscle fails to respond; but it does not fail to contract, it fails to relax, for it remains in a state of contracture (‘rigor’) developing a tension not far short of a maximal twitch. It seems more natural to conclude that the chemical reactions accompanying activity are primarily concerned with relaxation and occur after contraction; this is to say, they represent stages in a ‘recovery process’ as that term has been applied to processes in nerve.

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RITCHIE, A. Theories of Muscular Contraction. Nature 129, 165 (1932) doi:10.1038/129165a0

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