Action potential generation in rat slow- and fast-twitch muscles

S J Wood, C R Slater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


1. In skeletal muscle fibres, voltage-gated sodium channels are concentrated at the neuromuscular junction. The effect of this accumulation of sodium channels on action potential generation was investigated in rat slow- and fast-twitch muscle fibres. 2. Intracellular microelectrodes were used to generate and record action potentials, from an imposed membrane potential of -75 and -90 mV, in junctional and extrajunctional regions of the muscle fibre. To identify junctional regions, preparations were incubated with 5 x 10(-7) M d-tubocurarine (dTC) to block muscle contraction in response to nerve stimulation whilst allowing endplate potentials (EPPs) to be recorded. Injection of rectangular depolarizing current pulses initiated action potentials at the endplate with threshold values several millivolts lower than those generated elsewhere in the fibre. In addition, the maximum rate of rise of the action potential was greater at the endplate than in extrajunctional regions. 3. In other muscles, neuromuscular transmission was partially blocked with dTC (2 x 10(-7) M), such that repetitive nerve stimulation evoked action potentials and EPPs in the same fibre. The threshold of these nerve-evoked action potentials was approximately 50% lower than values derived from action potentials generated by current injection. 4. It is concluded that the threshold for action potential generation is significantly lower at the neuromuscular junction than in extrajunctional regions of skeletal muscle fibres. Furthermore, nerve-evoked current is more effective at generating an action potential than is injected current.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-10
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of Physiology
Volume486 ( Pt 2)
Issue numberPt 2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 1995


  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Differential Threshold
  • Female
  • Foot
  • Hindlimb
  • Muscle Fibers, Fast-Twitch/drug effects
  • Muscle Fibers, Slow-Twitch/drug effects
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena
  • Neuromuscular Depolarizing Agents/pharmacology
  • Neuromuscular Junction/physiology
  • Rats
  • Tubocurarine/pharmacology


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