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

Arjun Paudyal, Hans Degens, Guus C. Baan, Wendy Noort, Mark Slevin, Erwin van Wegen, Gert Kwakkel, Huub Maas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2509-2519
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number9
Early online date1 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

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