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Neuromuscular Function and Disorders by Alan J. McComas (Auth.)

By Alan J. McComas (Auth.)

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Example text

As the depolarizing action commences the muscle fibres begin to twitch spontaneously, indicating that their membrane potentials have fallen to the critical level for action potential initiation. As depolarization proceeds, the muscle fibres become refractory to motor nerve excitation and paralysis ensues. In comparison with the natural transmitter, acetylchohne, the action of these drugs is prolonged and this enables them to be used as muscle relaxants during surgery; suxamethonium can be administered by intravenous drip in the form of its chloride (succinylcholine).

By reducing the concentration of sodium in the solution bathing the fibre the initiation of an action potential in the sarcolemma was prevented. Costantin found that the central and superficial myofibrils had very similar thresholds for contraction, suggesting that an action mechanism was present and still effective in the T-system even though it was absent at the fibre surface. This conclusion was strengthened by the results of experiments involving tetrodotoxin in which the superficial myofibrils now had lower thresholds than the central ones and were the first to shorten.

These authors injected large single muscle fibres of barnacles with aqueorin, a protein which luminesces in the presence of calcium ions. 4). The authors were able to show that the calcium ions were released between the onset of the membrane response and the start of the muscle contraction, as would be expected for a coupling mechanism. The concentration of calcium ions increased rapidly during the membrane response and began to fall on completion of the latter. The change in muscle tension ran a much slower course, 41 binding protein).

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