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Concept: Muscle contraction


The currently accepted amount of protein required to achieve maximal stimulation of myofibrillar protein synthesis (MPS) following resistance exercise is 20-25 g. However, the influence of lean body mass (LBM) on the response of MPS to protein ingestion is unclear. Our aim was to assess the influence of LBM, both total and the amount activated during exercise, on the maximal response of MPS to ingestion of 20 or 40 g of whey protein following a bout of whole-body resistance exercise. Resistance-trained males were assigned to a group with lower LBM (≤65 kg; LLBM n = 15) or higher LBM (≥70 kg; HLBM n = 15) and participated in two trials in random order. MPS was measured with the infusion of (13)C6-phenylalanine tracer and collection of muscle biopsies following ingestion of either 20 or 40 g protein during recovery from a single bout of whole-body resistance exercise. A similar response of MPS during exercise recovery was observed between LBM groups following protein ingestion (20 g - LLBM: 0.048 ± 0.018%·h(-1); HLBM: 0.051 ± 0.014%·h(-1); 40 g - LLBM: 0.059 ± 0.021%·h(-1); HLBM: 0.059 ± 0.012%·h(-1)). Overall (groups combined), MPS was stimulated to a greater extent following ingestion of 40 g (0.059 ± 0.020%·h(-1)) compared with 20 g (0.049 ± 0.020%·h(-1); P = 0.005) of protein. Our data indicate that ingestion of 40 g whey protein following whole-body resistance exercise stimulates a greater MPS response than 20 g in young resistance-trained men. However, with the current doses, the total amount of LBM does not seem to influence the response.

Concepts: Metabolism, Muscle, Physical exercise, Exercise, Actin, Muscle contraction, Peptide synthesis, Muscle biopsy


Although previous studies of horses have investigated their facial expressions in specific contexts, e.g. pain, until now there has been no methodology available that documents all the possible facial movements of the horse and provides a way to record all potential facial configurations. This is essential for an objective description of horse facial expressions across a range of contexts that reflect different emotional states. Facial Action Coding Systems (FACS) provide a systematic methodology of identifying and coding facial expressions on the basis of underlying facial musculature and muscle movement. FACS are anatomically based and document all possible facial movements rather than a configuration of movements associated with a particular situation. Consequently, FACS can be applied as a tool for a wide range of research questions. We developed FACS for the domestic horse (Equus caballus) through anatomical investigation of the underlying musculature and subsequent analysis of naturally occurring behaviour captured on high quality video. Discrete facial movements were identified and described in terms of the underlying muscle contractions, in correspondence with previous FACS systems. The reliability of others to be able to learn this system (EquiFACS) and consistently code behavioural sequences was high-and this included people with no previous experience of horses. A wide range of facial movements were identified, including many that are also seen in primates and other domestic animals (dogs and cats). EquiFACS provides a method that can now be used to document the facial movements associated with different social contexts and thus to address questions relevant to understanding social cognition and comparative psychology, as well as informing current veterinary and animal welfare practices.

Concepts: Psychology, Muscle contraction, Horse, Domestication, Wild horse, Equus, Equidae, Donkey


There is a growing demand for in vitro assays for toxicity screening in three-dimensional (3D) environments. In this study, 3D cell culture using magnetic levitation was used to create an assay in which cells were patterned into 3D rings that close over time. The rate of closure was determined from time-lapse images taken with a mobile device and related to drug concentration. Rings of human embryonic kidney cells (HEK293) and tracheal smooth muscle cells (SMCs) were tested with ibuprofen and sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS). Ring closure correlated with the viability and migration of cells in two dimensions (2D). Images taken using a mobile device were similar in analysis to images taken with a microscope. Ring closure may serve as a promising label-free and quantitative assay for high-throughput in vivo toxicity in 3D cultures.

Concepts: Cardiac muscle, Cell culture, Urinary bladder, Actin, Computer graphics, Muscle contraction, Smooth muscle, HEK cell


BACKGROUND: Sympathetic nervous activity contributes to the maintenance of muscle oxygenation. However, patients with chronic pain may suffer from autonomic dysfunction. Furthermore, insufficient muscle oxygenation is observed among workers with chronic neck and shoulder pain. The aim of our study was to investigate how muscle load tasks affect sympathetic nervous activity and changes in oxygenation of the trapezius muscles in subjects with chronic neck and shoulder pain. METHODS: Thirty females were assigned to two groups: a pain group consisting of subjects with chronic neck and shoulder pain and a control group consisting of asymptomatic subjects. The participants performed three sets of isometric exercise in an upright position; they contracted their trapezius muscles with maximum effort and let the muscles relax (Relax). Autonomic nervous activity and oxygenation of the trapezius muscles were measured by heart rate variability (HRV) and Near-Infrared Spectroscopy. RESULTS: Oxyhemoglobin and total hemoglobin of the trapezius muscles in the pain group were lower during the Relax period compared with the control group. In addition, the low frequency / high frequency (LF/HF) ratio of HRV significantly increased during isometric exercise in the control group, whereas there were no significant changes in the pain group. CONCLUSIONS: Subjects with neck and shoulder pain showed lower oxygenation and blood flow of the trapezius muscles responding to isometric exercise, compared with asymptomatic subjects. Subjects with neck and shoulder pain also showed no significant changes in the LF/HF ratio of HRV responding to isometric exercise, which would imply a reduction in sympathetic nervous activity.

Concepts: Energy, Muscle, Muscle contraction, Acetylcholine, Autonomic nervous system, Isometric exercise, Trapezius muscle, Clavicle


BACKGROUND: The Jendrassik maneuver (JM) is a remote facilitation muscular contraction shown to affect amplitude and temporal components of the human stretch reflex. Conflicting theoretical models exist regarding the neurological mechanism related to its ability to reinforce reflex parameters. One mechanism involves the gamma motoneurons of the fusimotor system, which are subject to both physical and mental activity. A second mechanism describes reduced alpha motoneuron presynaptic inhibition, which is not subject to mental activity. In the current study, we determined if mental activity could be used to create a reflex facilitation comparable to a remote muscle contraction. METHOD: Using a within-participants design, we investigated the relative effect of the JM and a successfully employed mental task (Stroop task) on the amplitude and temporal components of the patellar tendon reflex. RESULTS: We found that the addition of mental activity had no influence on the patellar tendon reflex parameters measured, while the JM provided facilitation (increased reflex amplitude, decreased total reflex time). CONCLUSION: The findings from this study support the view that the mechanism for the JM is a reduction in presynaptic inhibition of alpha motoneurons as it is influenced by physical and not mental activity.

Concepts: Muscle, Actin, Muscle contraction, Muscular system, Reflexes, Alpha motor neuron, Efferent neurons, Patellar reflex


Participant adoption and maintenance is a major challenge in strength training (ST) programs in the community-setting. In adults who were overweight or with type 2 diabetes (T2DM), the aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness of a standard ST program (SST) to an enhanced program (EST) on the adoption and maintenance of ST and cardio-metabolic risk factors and muscle strength.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Diabetes mellitus type 2, Diabetes mellitus, The Canon of Medicine, Obesity, Randomized controlled trial, Physical exercise, Muscle contraction


Many studies have attempted to determine the associations between blood biomarkers and exercise-induced muscle damage. However, poor correlations between the changes in biomarker levels and the magnitude of muscle symptoms have been reported. Recent advances in proteomic tools offer a strategy for the comprehensive analysis of protein expression, which can be used to identify biomarkers. Here, we used a proteomic analysis to identify urinary proteins that appear in response to a calf-raise exercise, including repetitive eccentric muscle contractions, and found that a titin (also known as connectin) N-terminal fragment molecule appears in the urine after eccentric exercise. We measured the titin fragment in urine samples from nine individuals before and after eccentric exercise using a newly-established enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and found that the titin fragment excretion rate increased 96 h after the exercise (5.1 to 77.6 pg/min, p <0.01). The changes in the titin fragment excretion rate were correlated strongly with blood markers of muscle damage and with muscle symptoms. These findings suggest that the urinary titin fragment is potentially a noninvasive biomarker of muscle damage.

Concepts: Antibody, Proteins, Protein, ELISA, ELISPOT, Assay, Muscle contraction, Immunoassay


Endothelial and smooth muscle cells are considered promising resources for regenerative medicine and cell replacement therapy. It has been shown that both types of cells are heterogeneous depending on the type of vessels and organs in which they are located. Therefore, isolation of endothelial and smooth muscle cells from tissues relevant to the area of research is necessary for the adequate study of specific pathologies. However, sources of specialized human endothelial and smooth muscle cells are limited, and the search for new sources is still relevant. The main goal of our study is to demonstrate that functional endothelial and smooth muscle cells can be obtained from an available source-post-surgically discarded cardiac tissue from the right atrial appendage and right ventricular myocardium.

Concepts: Heart, Cardiac muscle, Actin, Tissues, Muscle contraction, Skeletal muscle, Smooth muscle, Muscular system


Lightweight artificial muscle fibers that can match the large tensile stroke of natural muscles have been elusive. In particular, low stroke, limited cycle life, and inefficient energy conversion have combined with high cost and hysteretic performance to restrict practical use. In recent years, a new class of artificial muscles, based on highly twisted fibers, has emerged that can deliver more than 2,000 J/kg of specific work during muscle contraction, compared with just 40 J/kg for natural muscle. Thermally actuated muscles made from ordinary polymer fibers can deliver long-life, hysteresis-free tensile strokes of more than 30% and torsional actuation capable of spinning a paddle at speeds of more than 100,000 rpm. In this perspective, we explore the mechanisms and potential applications of present twisted fiber muscles and the future opportunities and challenges for developing twisted muscles having improved cycle rates, efficiencies, and functionality. We also demonstrate artificial muscle sewing threads and textiles and coiled structures that exhibit nearly unlimited actuation strokes. In addition to robotics and prosthetics, future applications include smart textiles that change breathability in response to temperature and moisture and window shutters that automatically open and close to conserve energy.

Concepts: Energy, Stroke, Muscle, Myosin, Muscle contraction, Muscular system, Fiber


Vasoactive liabilities are typically assayed using wire myography, which is limited by its high cost and low throughput. To meet the demand for higher throughput in vitro alternatives, this study introduces a magnetic 3D bioprinting-based vasoactivity assay. The principle behind this assay is the magnetic printing of vascular smooth muscle cells into 3D rings that functionally represent blood vessel segments, whose contraction can be altered by vasodilators and vasoconstrictors. A cost-effective imaging modality employing a mobile device is used to capture contraction with high throughput. The goal of this study was to validate ring contraction as a measure of vasoactivity, using a small panel of known vasoactive drugs. In vitro responses of the rings matched outcomes predicted by in vivo pharmacology, and were supported by immunohistochemistry. Altogether, this ring assay robustly models vasoactivity, which could meet the need for higher throughput in vitro alternatives.

Concepts: Blood vessel, Cardiac muscle, Actin, Artery, Muscle contraction, Smooth muscle, Muscular system, Vascular smooth muscle