All or None Principle

By Leon Carpenter,2014-05-08 20:27
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All or None Principle


    Chapter 12- Muscles (Part 2)

    All or None Principle:

     The amount of tension produced by an individual muscle cell depends solely on the number of cross-bridge interactions. A muscle fiber at a given resting length that is stimulated to contract will always produce the same amount of tension. There is no mechanism to regulate the amount of tension produced in that contraction:

    o The muscle fiber is either “ON” (producing tension) or “OFF” (relaxed).

     This feature of muscle mechanics is called the all-or-none law/principle.

    o i.e. stimulated with a threshold voltage/stimulus, a muscle cell will contract to its fullest extend, or it will not

    contract at all

     Because a whole muscle is made up of many muscle cells, it does not follow the all-or-none principle.

    o The amount of tension produced by a whole muscle cell is determined by:

    ; the frequency of stimulation (# of stimuli per second)

    ; the number of muscle cells stimulated

    Twitch Contraction

     A twitch is a single stimulus-contraction-relaxation sequence, in a muscle cell, that results from a single action potential

    o An adequate stimulus or threshold voltage is needed to generate a twitch

    o A muscle can be stimulated either indirectly via a motor neuron (happens with integration from the CNS) or

    directly by depolarizing the sarcolemma (usually with an electrical stimulus voltage) -- See Fig. 12-12

    ; The threshold voltage for stimulation via the motor neuron is lower b/c it stimulates/excites

    the sarcolemma by releasing ACh at the NMJ

     The duration of a single twitch is variable.

    o Twitches in the eye muscle cell can be as brief as 10 msec

    o Twitches in the calf muscle cell lasts ~100 msec.

     A myogram is a graphical depiction that shows the development of tension in various muscles during a twitch.

     A single twitch can be divided into a latent period, a contraction phase, and a relaxation phase

    ; Latent period

    ; begins at stimulation

    ; typically lasts ~2 msec +2; action potential is sweeping across the sarcolemma & Ca is released by the sarcoplamic


    ; during this time, muscle cell does NOT produce tension, b/c not enough cross-bridges have

    formed and the contraction cycle has not started

    ; Contraction phase

    ; tension rises to a peak

    ; typically lasts ~20msec

    ; speed depends on the weight of the load being lifted & the fiber type (fast- vs. slow-twitch)

    ; cross-bridges are interacting with active sites on actin filaments causing sarcomere shortening

    ; Relaxation phase +2; muscle tension falls to resting levels, as Ca is recycled back into the terminal cisternae and cross-

    bridges detach

    ; typically lasts ~25 msec

Draw a muscle cell that is stimulated directly and one that is stimulated indirectly. See Fig. 12-12

    o What is the neurotransmitter that is released during indirect stimulation? What type of receptors does the NT bind

    to at the NMJ during indirect stimulation?

    o What is meant by independent irritability/excitability of muscle?


     Draw and label a single muscle twitch. See Fig. 12-12

     Single stimulation produces a single twitch, but twitches in skeletal muscle do not accomplish anything useful. All normal activities involve sustained muscle contractions caused by changing the rate of stimulation.

    Wave Summation

     If a second stimulus arrives before the relaxation phase has ended, a second, more forceful contraction occurs. This addition of one twitch to another causing an increased strength of contraction is called wave summation.

     The frequency of stimulation depends on the duration of a single twitch

    o i.e. if a twitch lasts 20 msec, stimulation at a frequency of less than 50 per second will produce individual twitches;

    but if you increase the frequency of stimulation to, say 150 per second, the twitches will sum & tension will increase

    o Stimulation is occurring during the relaxation phase nd; the closer to the peak of contraction phase you stimulate the stronger the second contraction (2 peak sthigher than 1)

    ; What is the mechanism responsible for this phenomenon?

    ; Repeated stimulation does not allow time for the sarcoplamic reticulum to remove calcium from

    the sarcromere region; thus, with a subsequent stimulation, calcium levels increase producing a

    greater union of cross-bridges and greater strength of contraction.

    o See Fig. 12-17 a&b

     Tension in a muscle that continues to receive stimulation without be allowed to completely relax, will rise to a peak and is

    said to be in incomplete tetanus.

    o incomplete tetanus - contraction permitting partial relaxation btn stimuli.

    o complete tetanus - no relaxation, muscle remains contracted

     due to the sarcoplasmic reticulum not having time to reclaim calcium ions (high calcium ion

    concentrations in the sarcoplasm prolongs the state of contraction)

     Virtually all normal muscular contractions involve complete tetanus of participating muscle cells

     Draw a myogram of incomplete tetanus and complete tetanus and fatigue. Where on the myogram is partial

    relaxation taking place? Where is there no relaxation? What is causing the sustained contractions and plateau

    during complete tetanus? What might be a cause of fatigue?

     What is Clostridium tetani? What disease does it cause? What is/are the symptoms? What is the mechanism causing

    these symptoms? What can be used to treat the disease [HINT: think about neurotransmitter release, inhibition, and

    competitive inhibitors; refer to the “Running Problem” in Chapter 13.]


    Length-tension Curve

     When the muscle cell is stimulated to contract, only myosin heads within the zone of overlap can bind to active sites

    and produce tension

     Tension is developed by individual muscle fibers and is a function of fiber length.

     A muscle fiber develops its greatest tension when there is an optimal overlap btn thick & thin filaments of the sarcomere ---

    o When a muscle cell is as short as it can be, the thick filaments of the sarcomere are jammed up against the Z disks.

    ; Myosin cross bridges cannot pivot, even though binding to the actin occurs

    ; NO tension is produced

    o Even if the muscle cell is stretched slightly, the actin-actin overlap prevents further cross bridge formation

     Increased stretch to muscle cell’s optimal length causes the maximum number of cross-bridges creating the maximum tension

    that can be generated with the muscle contracts

     As muscle continues to stretch past the optimal length, tension is increased up to a point when stretch becomes excessive.

    o Actin and myosin pulled too far apart for cross-bridge formation.

     How would a drug that interfered with cross-bridge formation affect muscle contraction?

    Draw and label Fig. 12-16


     The total force exerted by the skeletal muscle depends on how many muscle cells are activated. Motor unit = All of the muscle cells controlled by a single motor neuron (see Fig. 12-18).

     Contraction in intact muscles depends on the types and numbers of motor units in the muscle. Now explain how muscles create graded contractions of varying force and duration.

    o One motor neuron may innervate 2 to 200 to 2000 muscle cells

     The few the ratio of motor neuron to muscle cell, the more precise the movement (e.g. fine motor control of

    eye movements

     The larger the ratio of motor neuron to muscle cell, the less precise the movement (e.g. gross motor control

    and movement of the quadriceps femoris muscles)

     The smooth but steady increase in muscular tension produced by increasing the number of active motor units is called


    o Prevents fatigue & improves smoothness of muscle contraction in intact muscles We can simulate recruitment by increasing stimulation strength (voltage). See Fig. 15.6 Tharp Lab Manual

    o A threshold stimulus (voltage) will elicit a contraction

    o Any stimulus below threshold is called a subthreshold stimulus and will not elicit a contraction

    ; The stimulus is not strong enough due to low number of motor units responding

    o Once a threshold stimulus has been met, as the stimulus strength (voltage) increases, the tension (force) generated by

    the muscle increases to a point (maximal stimulus).

    ; Motor units are being recruited with increasing the stimulus strength more muscle cells are contracting

    o At the maximal stimulus, all motor units have been recruits all muscle cells in the whole muscle are


    o Any stimulus above the maximal stimulus is called a supramaximal stimulus (voltage) and the tension will not

    increase beyond that elicited by a maximal stimulus.


    Mechanics of body Movement: (give the definitions and specific examples of each of the following:

     Muscles contractions may be classified as isotonic or isometric on the basis of the pattern of tension production.

     Isotonic contraction

    o Tension rises to a plateau that extends until relaxation occurs

    o Before contraction can occur, the cross-bridges must produce enough for to overcome the resistance (load)

    o Tension in the muscle builds until it exceeds the amount of resistance, and then the muscle shortens

    o Concentric contraction

    ; The muscle tension exceeds the resistance, and the muscle shortens

    o Eccentric contraction (these types of exercise/movements produce the most damage to muscle fibers and

    connective tissue and are implicated in DOMS; they are also thought to produce the most muscle cell

    growth/increase in size)

    ; The tension developed is less than the resistance, and the muscle is stretched by the resistance

Isometric contractions

    o Cross-bridges form, and tension rises to peak values, but the muscle cannot overcome the resistance of the load

    o Tension rises, but the resistance (load) does not move

    Muscle Relaxation and the Return to Resting Length

     There are no active mechanisms for muscle cell elongation

    o Contraction is active (actions of actin and myosin shortening muscle)

    o Relaxation is passive (actions of series elastic elements)

After a contraction, a muscle cell returns to its original length through a combination of forces:

    o Elastic forces

     Series Elastic Elements

    ; Intracellular structures = titian

    ; Extracellular structures = endomysium, perimysium, epimysium, tendons (these are flexible &


     When tension is relieved, the SEE recoil to their original dimensions

     Returns muscle cell (and whole muscle) to its original resting length

     During isotonic contractions, the skeletal muscle stretches the elastic components before the resistance

    begins to move

     During isometric contractions, the resistance does not move, but the elastic components are stretched, and

    the muscle fiber shortens to some degree

    o Opposing muscle contractions

    o Gravity

     A muscle produces a maximum amount of active tension over a relatively narrow range of lengths Passive tension increases as the muscle exceeds optimal lengths

    Muscle Length, Tension, and Speed of Contraction

     As the amount of tension increases, the speed of contraction decreases.

     When the resistance equals the maximum tension produced by the muscle, speed is zero and contraction is isometric

     Draw Fig. 12-23 and identify the point on the line at which the contraction is isometric and at what point the

    muscle contraction is at maximum velocity.

    Now summarize how skeletal muscles produce movement by acting on bones and tendons [Hint: remember insertions, origins,

    joints, levers, and fulcrums?]


    Cardiac Muscle Tissue

A. Anatomy

    found only in heart

    striated & involuntary

    fibers quadrangular

    single centrally placed nucleus

Compared to skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle has more sarcoplasm, more mitos, less well developed sarcoplasmic reticulum, & larger

    transverse tubules

Fibers branch freely & are connected via gap junctions.

    Intercalated disc provide strength & aid in conduction of muscle action potentials by way of gap junctions located at the disc

B. Physiology

    unlike skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle tissue contracts & relaxes rapidly, continuously, & rhythmically. ATP is generated aerobically in large numerous mitochondria.

Can contract w/o outside stimulation (but is under Autonomic control) & can remain contracted longer than skeletal muscle tissue.

    Has a long refractory period that allows time for the heart to relax btn beats, preventing tetanus. (Why would tetanus be bad?).

Smooth Muscle Tissue

A. Anatomy

    nonstriated & involuntary

    considerably smaller than skeletal muscle fibers & are thickest at center, tapering at the ends. Centrally located oval nucleus

Visceral (single-unit) smooth muscle

found in walls of hollow viscera & sm b.v.’s

    fibers are arranged in a network

    Multiunit smooth muscle

    found in lg b.v.’s, lg airways, arrector pili muscles, & the iris of the eye

    fibers operate singly rather than as a unit

B. Physiology

    The duration of contraction & relaxation of s.m. is longer than in skeletal muscle. (See figure 12-24).

Contract in response to nerve impulses from the Autonomic Nervous System (parasympathetic division), hormones, & local factors

    like pH changes, ion concentrations. Fibers can stretch considerably w/o developing tension...this phenomenon is termed stress-

    relaxation response

Regeneration of Muscle Tissue

; skeletal muscle fibers cannot divide (no mitosis)

    ; they do have limited powers of regeneration

    ; growth after first year is due to enlargement of existing cells, rather than increase in the # of cells

    ; satellite cells may produce new individual cells by differentiation ; there activity is not sufficient to compensate for significant muscle damage ; in such cases skeletal muscle tissue undergoes fibrosis - replacement by fibrous scar tissue which is non-contractile.

    ; cardiac muscle cells cannot divide or regenerate

    ; smooth muscle cells have limited capacity for division & regeneration

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