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Failure of neuromuscular propagation in rats

, : Failure of neuromuscular propagation in rats. Journal of Physiology 140(3): 440-461

A study was made of the mechanism of neuromuscular failure during tetanic stimulation in rats, in vitro and in situ. An intracellular electrode may cause failure of propagation along a contracting muscle fiber because of local damage. Repetitive activity is limited by failure of end-plate potentials (epp) to initiate propagated impulses in muscle fibers because the epp diminishes as the threshold of the muscle fiber increases. The post-synaptic membrane apparently becomes less sensitive to ACh. Because of this fact, muscle fibers cannot respond for more than a few minutes at frequencies greater than about 50/second. If excitation is maintained at a frequency about 10/second, the likelihood that propagation will fail is small. Tetanic activity is also limited by the occurrence of presynaptic failure of propagation, probably in the fine terminal filaments of the motor nerve. There is a wide difference between fibers with regard to duration and frequency of stimulation needed to cause this type of failure. Intermittent presynaptic failure of propagation tends to protect the muscle fiber from excessive stimulation and to permit a fatigued muscle fiber to resume activity at a lower frequency.


PMID: 13514717

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