By Alan J. McComas (Auth.)
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Additional resources for Neuromuscular Function and Disorders
Further evidence for the important role of calcium was that injections of this ion into a muscle fibre through a micropipette evoked local contractions; sodium, potassium and magnesium ions were ineffective (Heilbrunn and Wiercinski, 1947). Another experiment has been to 'desheath' a muscle fibre by removing the sarcolemma and then to induce a contraction by applying calcium ions directly to myofibrils with a micropipette (the Natori preparation; see Podolsky, 1964). The importance of calcium ions, as revealed by these experiments, is that they provide the second step in the excitation—contraction coupling process.
Using cultured chick myotubes it has been shown that there is a continual turnover of receptors in the muscle fibre membrane. The receptors are first prepared on internal membranes and are then transported to the sarcolemma where they remain for an average period of 22 hr (Devreotes, 1975). They are then removed and carried back into the interior of the fibre within secondary lysosomes (degradation vacuoles). A recent finding of great interest, but of uncertain functional significance, is that acetylcholine receptors are also present on the presynaptic membrane of the axon (Lentz et al, 1975), though they were not observed by Barnard and his associates (1975), using a rather different marking technique.
In man the largest of these axons have diameters RESTING AND ACTION POTENTIALS of about 14 u,m, including the thicknesses of the myelin sheaths; rather thicker axons are found in some of the other mammals. The impulse velocity in the motor axons can readily be determined by successively stimulating a nerve at two points and measuring the time elapsing before the muscle fibres are excited on each occasion. 9). The impulse conduction velocities are rather higher in the upper limb than in the lower limb, being about 50-65 m/s for the median and ulnar nerves in the forearm and 40-55 m/s for the tibial and peroneal nerves below the knee.