Journal of Muscle Research and Cell Motility

, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 313–325 | Cite as

Mechanism of force enhancement during and after lengthening of active muscle: a temperature dependence study

  • H. Roots
  • G. J. Pinniger
  • G. W. Offer
  • K. W. Ranatunga
Original Paper


The aim of the present study was to examine the temperature dependence of active force in lengthening and shortening muscle. Experiments were done, in vitro, on bundles of intact fibres (fibre length L0 ~2 mm; sarcomere length ~2.5 μm) isolated from a rat fast muscle (flexor hallucis brevis) and a ramp length change of 5–7 % L0 was applied on the plateau of an isometric tetanic contraction. Ramp lengthening increased and ramp shortening decreased the muscle tension to new approximately steady levels in a velocity-dependent way. The isometric tension and the lower steady tension reached at a given shortening velocity, increased with warming from 10 to 35 °C and the relation between tension and reciprocal absolute temperature was sigmoidal. However, the tension–temperature curve of shortening muscle was sharper and shifted to higher temperature with increased velocity. In contrast, the enhanced steady tension during lengthening at a given velocity was largely temperature-insensitive within the same temperature range; we hypothesize that the tension–temperature curve may be shifted to lower temperatures in lengthening muscle. Consequently, when normalised to the isometric tension at each temperature, the tension during lengthening at a given velocity decreased exponentially with increase of temperature. The residual force enhancement that remains after ramp lengthening showed a similar behaviour and was markedly reduced in warming from 10 to 35 °C. The findings are consistent with the thesis that active force generation in muscle is endothermic and strain-sensitive; during shortening with a faster crossbridge cycle it becomes more pronounced, but during lengthening it becomes depressed as the cycle slows in a velocity-dependent way. The residual force enhancement may be caused by the same process in addition to non-crossbridge mechanism(s).


Lengthening muscle force Temperature effects Force–velocity relation Thermodynamics 



We thank The Wellcome Trust for support of this research and Associate Professor A. Bakker (UWA) for making useful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Roots
    • 1
  • G. J. Pinniger
    • 2
  • G. W. Offer
    • 1
  • K. W. Ranatunga
    • 1
  1. 1.Muscle Contraction GroupSchool of Physiology & Pharmacology, University of BristolBristolUK
  2. 2.School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human BiologyUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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