Elastic energy storage and release in white muscle from dogfish scyliorhinus canicula
The production of work by the contractile component (CC) and the storage and release of work in the elastic structures that act in series (the series elastic component, SEC) with the contractile component were measured using white muscle fibres from the dogfish Scyliorhinus canicula. Heat production was also measured because the sum of work and heat is equivalent to the energy cost of the contraction (ATP used). These energy fluxes were evaluated in contractions with constant-velocity shortening either during stimulation or during relaxation. The muscle preparation was tetanized for 0.6 s and shortened by 1 mm (approximately 15 % of L0) at 3.5 or 7.0 mm s-1 (approximately 15 or 30 % of V0), where L0 is the muscle length at which isometric force is greatest and V0 is the maximum velocity of shortening. In separate experiments, the stiffness of the SEC was characterized from measurements of force responses to step changes in the length of contracting muscle. Using the values of SEC stiffness, we evaluated separately the work and heat associated with the CC and with the SEC. The major findings were (1) that work stored in the SEC could be completely recovered as external work when shortening occurred during relaxation (none of the stored work being degraded into heat) and (2) that, when shortening occurred progressively later during the contraction, the total energy cost of the contraction declined towards that of an isometric contraction.