200901 New publi

Spinal contribution to neuromuscular recovery differs between elbow-flexor and knee-extensor muscles after a maximal sustained fatiguing task

Authors: Gianluca Vernillo, John Temesi, Matthieu Martin, Renata L Krüger,Guillaume Y Millet.

Published: 01 September 2020 - J Neurophysiol.


Data from studies of elbow-flexor (EF) or knee-extensor (KE) muscles suggest that a fatigue-related decrease in motoneuron excitability only occurs in EF. It is unknown how motoneuron excitability changes after sustained fatiguing maximal voluntary isometric contractions (MVICs) in EF and KE in the same participants. In two sessions, eight healthy men performed a 2-min MVIC of EF or KE to induce fatigue with brief MVICs before and six times after the 2-min MVIC. Electromyographic responses elicited by corticospinal tract stimulation at the transmastoid [cervicomedullary motor-evoked potential (CMEP)] or thoracic [thoracic motor-evoked potential (TMEP)] level were recorded from EF and KE, respectively. To account for muscle excitability, CMEPs and TMEPs were normalized to maximal M-wave (Mmax) elicited by peripheral nerve stimulation during each brief MVIC. Immediately after the 2-min MVIC, biceps brachii and brachioradialis CMEP/Mmax were 88% (SD 11%) (P = 0.026) and 87% (SD 12%) (P = 0.029) of pre-MVIC (PRE) values, respectively, and remained lower than PRE after 5 s of recovery [91% (SD 8%), P = 0.036 and 87% (SD 13%), P = 0.046, respectively]. No subsequent time points differed from PRE (all P ≥ 0.253). TMEP/Mmax for rectus femoris and vastus lateralis were not different from PRE at any time during the recovery period (all P > 0.050). A different recovery pattern in motoneuron excitability occurred in EF as it recovered by 60 s whereas KE motoneurons were unaffected by the fatiguing task. The present findings may contribute to better understand muscle-specific neurophysiological differences in spinal excitability.

NEW & NOTEWORTHY By comparing the changes in motoneuron excitability in elbow-flexor and knee-extensor muscles after sustained fatiguing maximal voluntary contractions, this study shows that motoneuron recovery behavior depends on the muscle performing the exercise. A different recovery pattern in motoneuron excitability occurs in elbow flexors as it recovered by 60 s whereas knee extensors were unaffected by fatigue. This finding can help to increase understanding of the effect of a fatigue and subsequent recovery on neural processes.

Keywords: fatigue; inhibition; maximal voluntary contraction; motoneuron; spinal excitability.

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