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Changes in muscle-tendon unit length-force characteristics following experimentally induced photothrombotic stroke cannot be explained by changes in muscle belly structure.

Paudyal, Arjun and Degens, Hans and Baan, Guus C and Noort, Wendy and Slevin, Mark and van Wegen, Erwin and Kwakkel, Gert and Maas, Huub (2021) Changes in muscle-tendon unit length-force characteristics following experimentally induced photothrombotic stroke cannot be explained by changes in muscle belly structure. European Journal of Applied Physiology. ISSN 1439-6319

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Abstract

Purpose The aim of this study was to assess the effects of experimentally induced photothrombotic stroke on structural and mechanical properties of rat m. flexor carpi ulnaris. Methods Two groups of Young-adult male Sprague–Dawley rats were measured: stroke (n = 9) and control (n = 7). Photothrombotic stroke was induced in the forelimb region of the primary sensorimotor cortex. Four weeks later, muscle–tendon unit and muscle belly length–force characteristics of the m. flexor carpi ulnaris, mechanical interaction with the neighbouring m. palmaris longus, the number of sarcomeres in series within muscle fibres, and the physiological cross-sectional area were measured. Results Stroke resulted in higher force and stiffness of the m. flexor carpi ulnaris at optimum muscle–tendon unit length, but only for the passive conditions. Stroke did not alter the length–force characteristics of m. flexor carpi ulnaris muscle belly, morphological characteristics, and the extent of mechanical interaction with m. palmaris longus muscle. Conclusion The higher passive force and passive stiffness at the muscle–tendon unit level in the absence of changes in structural and mechanical characteristics of the muscle belly indicates that the experimentally induced stroke resulted in an increased stiffness of the tendon.

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