Rat extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscles were overloaded by removal of the synergist tibialis anterior (TA). The weight of the overloaded muscle was increased 15 days after the initial operation and remained higher throughout the period studied (153 days). The times to peak twitch tension and half relaxation remained unaltered, but the twitch and tetanic tensions developed by the overloaded EDL muscles increased. The overloaded EDL muscles became significantly more fatigue resistant. In a separate group of animals the overloaded EDL muscle was also chronically stimulated at 10 Hz. The additional stimulation altered the response of the EDL to overload in that the time to peak twitch tension of the muscle was slightly prolonged. There was no increase in twitch or tetanic tension in spite of the increase in muscle weight, but the electrical stimulation led to a further increase in fatigue resistance above that seen in overloaded muscles. The histochemical and immunocytochemical examination of the muscle revealed that there was a moderate increase in succinate dehydrogenase activity in the muscles overloaded only, but a considerable increase in those overloaded muscles that were also stimulated. There was no obvious change in the number of muscle fibres that reacted with an antibody to slow myosin in either overloaded only or overloaded and stimulated EDL muscles. Thus the addition of continuous activity to overload induced a slowing of contraction and prevented the increase of force usually induced by overload.
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