An acid-sensing ion channel that detects ischemic pain

Nevner mange interessante ting om hvordan lav pH som følge av CO2 ikke er det samme som lav pH som følge av f.eks. melkesyre(laktic acid). De sier at melkesyre og ATP må være sammen for å gjøre pH-sensitive nerver aktive. Noe som skjer ved hard trening hvor ATP lekker ut fra muskel cellene. Laktat aktiverer ASICs umiddelbart, mens ATP er «treg» og det skjer i løpet av 30-60 sekunder. Kanskje denne overaskelsen i nervesystemet er utgangspunktet for sentralsensiteringen som skjer ved DOMS?

Paradox number 2 answered: coincident detection of lactate, ATP and acid

We are left with a seemingly more profound paradox: how can acid be relevant to ischemic pain if no pain is caused by metabolic events such as hypercapnia that can cause the same kind of pH change that occurs during a heart attack? Pan et al. (13) demonstrated the paradox most convincingly. They measured the pH on the surface of the heart when a coronary artery was blocked and found that it dropped from pH 7.4 to 7.0. Then they reperfused the artery and had the animal breathe carbon dioxide until the resulting hypercapnia dropped the pH of the heart to 7.0. The blockade of the artery caused increased firing of sensory axons that innervate the heart, but the hypercapnia did not. How can this observation be reconciled with their other result (see above) that buffering extracellular pH greatly diminishes axon firing during artery occlusion? The simple interpretation is that protons must be necessary to activate the sensory axons, but cannot by themselves be sufficient. In other words, something must act together with protons to activate the axons.

We searched for compounds released during ischemia that might act together with protons to activate ASIC3. We found two: lactate and adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP). When the channel is activated by pH 7.0 in the presence of 15 mM lactate, the resulting current is 80% greater than when lactate is absent (Figure 6). These are physiological values. Under resting conditions, extracellular lactate is about 1 mM in skeletal muscle; after extreme ischemic exercise it rises to 15-30 mM (26). The increased current in the presence of lactate makes the channel better at sensing the lactic acidosis that occurs in ischemia than other kinds of acidosis such as the carbonic acidosis when an animal breathes CO2.

Extracellular ATP rises to >10 µM when a muscle contracts without blood flow (27). We find that a transient appearance of such extracellular ATP can greatly increase ASIC3 current even for minutes after the ATP is removed (Figure 7).

Though they both increase ASIC3 current, lactate and ATP have qualitatively different effects. Lactate acts immediately and must be present for the ASIC current to be enhanced. ATP increases the current slowly – a peak is reached between 15 s and 1 min after ATP is applied – and the effect persists for minutes after ATP is removed. Also, lactate acts on every cell that expresses ASIC3 whereas ATP acts on some cells but not others. We find that lactate acts by altering the basic gating of the channel, which, surprisingly, involves binding of calcium in addition to protons (28). In contrast, the ATP binding site must not be the ASIC3 channel itself; there are a variety of purinergic receptors, some of which are ion channels and some of which are G-protein-coupled receptors. We are presently asking if any of these known receptors might mediate ATP modulation of ASIC3.

Systemic inflammation impairs respiratory chemoreflexes and plasticity

Denne studien beskriver hvordan systemisk betennelse påvirker pustefunksjonen og gjør at det blir vanskeligere å endre pustemønser, f.eks. å gjøre pusteøvelser, eller å tilpasse pusten til aktivitetsnivå. Spesielt den kjemiske og motoriske delen av pustefysiologien blir dårligere. Noe som viser seg i laver CO2 sensitivitet (kjemisk) og svakere pustemuskler (Motorisk).

Nevner spesielt at det er mikroglia celler i CNS som påvirkes av betennelse, og som kan oppretthodle betennelse siden de sender ut cytokiner, m.m. Astrosytter kan også bidra mye siden de aktiverer NFkB. Den gode nyheten her er at økt CO2 nedregulerer NFkB. TLR-4 (Toll-like receptor) aktiveres av patogener og problemer i cellene, og aktiverer NFkB, og nedreguleres av økt CO2.


Many lung and central nervous system disorders require robust and appropriate physiological responses to assure adequate breathing. Factors undermining the efficacy of ventilatory control will diminish the ability to compensate for pathology, threatening life itself. Although most of these same disorders are associated with systemic and/or neuroinflammation, and inflammation affects neural function, we are only beginning to understand interactions between inflammation and any aspect of ventilatory control (e.g. sensory receptors, rhythm generation, chemoreflexes, plasticity). Here we review available evidence, and present limited new data suggesting that systemic (or neural) inflammation impairs two key elements of ventilatory control: chemoreflexes and respiratory motor (vs. sensory) plasticity. Achieving an understanding of mechanisms whereby inflammation undermines ventilatory control is fundamental since inflammation may diminish the capacity for natural, compensatory responses during pathological states, and the ability to harness respiratory plasticity as a therapeutic strategy in the treatment of devastating breathing disorders, such as during cervical spinal injury or motor neuron disease.

Most lung and CNS disorders are associated with systemic and/or neural inflammation, including chronic lung diseases (Stockley, 2009), traumatic, ischemic and degenerative neural disorders (Teeling and Perry, 2009) and obstructive sleep apnea.

Systemic inflammation affects sensory receptors that modulate breathing, but can also trigger inflammatory responses in the central nervous system (CNS) through complex mechanisms. The primary CNS cells affected during systemic inflammation are microglia, the resident immune cells of the CNS, and astrocytes (Lehnardt, 2010).

Even when in their “resting state,” microglia are highly active, surveying their environment (Raivich, 2005,Parkhurst and Gan, 2010). When confronted with pathological conditions, such as neuronal injury/degeneration or bacterial/viral/fungal infection, they become “activated,” shifting from a stellate, ramified phenotype to an amoeboid shape (Kreutzberg, 1996). Activated microglia can be phagocytic, or they can release toxic and protective factors, including cytokines, prostaglandins, nitric oxide or neurotrophic factors (e.g. BDNF) (Kreutzberg, 1996Graeber, 2010). Despite the importance of microglia in immune function, they are diffuse in the CNS (~70-90% of CNS cells are glia; microglia are ~5-10% of those cells).

Astrocytes, on the other hand, contribute to the overall inflammatory response since they release cytokines, triggering nuclear factor-kappa B (NFκB) signaling elsewhere in the CNS. Further, they express many TLRs, including TLR-4, capable of eliciting an inflammatory response (Li and Stark, 2002Farina et al., 2007,Johann et al., 2008). Given their relative abundance, astrocytes may play a key role in CNS inflammatory responses.

TLR-4 receptors are cytokine family receptors that activate transcription factors, such as NFκB (Lu et al., 2008). NFκB regulates the expression of many inflammatory genes, including: IL-1β, -6 and -18, TNFα, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) (Ricciardolo et al., 2004Nam, 2006). Endogenous molecules known to activate TLR-4 receptors include (but are not limited to) heat shock proteins (specifically HSP60, Ohashi et al., 2000Lehnardt et al., 2008), fibrinogen, surfactant protein-A, fibronectin extra domain A, heparin sulfate, soluble hyaluronan, β-defensin 2 and HMGB1 (Chen et al., 2007).

The role of inflammation (and specifically microglia) in chronic pain has been studied extensively (reviewed in Woolf and Salter, 2000Trang et al., 2006Mika, 2008Abbadie et al., 2009Baumbauer et al., 2009). A remarkable story has emerged, demonstrating the interplay between neurons, microglia, inflammation and plasticity in this spinal sensory system. In short, inflammation induces both peripheral and central sensitization, leading to allodynia (hypersensitivity to otherwise non-painful stimuli) and hyperalgesia (exaggerated or prolonged responses to a noxious stimulus) (Mika, 2008).

An important aspect of ventilatory control susceptible to inflammatory modulation is the chemoreflex control of breathing. Chemoreflexes are critical for maintaining homeostasis of arterial blood gases viaclassical negative feedback (Mitchell et al., 2009), or acting as “teachers” that induce plasticity in the respiratory control system (Mitchell and Johnson, 2003). Major chemoreflexes include the hypoxic (Powell et al., 1998) and hypercapnic ventilatory responses (Nattie, 2001), arising predominantly from the peripheral arterial and central chemoreceptors (Lahiri and Forster, 2003).

To date, no studies have reported the impact of systemic inflammation on hypercapnic responses. However, increased CO2 suppresses NFκB activation, possibly suppressing inflammatory gene expression (Taylor and Cummins, 2011). In fact, hypercapnia has been used to treat ischemia/reperfusion injury to decrease inflammation and reduce lung tissue damage (Laffey et al., 2000O’Croinin et al., 2005Curley et al., 2010Li et al., 2010).

Further work concerning the influence of systemic inflammation on hypercapnic ventilatory responses is warranted, particularly since impaired CO2 chemoreflexes would allow greater hypercapnia and minimize the ongoing inflammation; in this sense, impaired hypercapnic ventilatory responses during inflammation may (in part) be adaptive.

Is recovery driven by central or peripheral factors? A role for the brain in recovery following intermittent-sprint exercise

Nevner svært mye spennende om stølhet (DOMS). Spesielt om hvor mye central sensitering har å si, og mye om hydrering (vann). Samt alt om betennelser og andre faktorer knyttet til DOMS. Sier bl.a. at glucogenlagre normaliseres etter 24 timer uavhengig av hva man spiser, men glykogen omsetningen i kroppen er begrenset i 2-3 dager etter. Nevner også at det er alle de perifere faktorene, sammen med de sentrale, som tilsammen skaper DOMS tilstanden.


Prolonged intermittent-sprint exercise (i.e., team sports) induce disturbances in skeletal muscle structure and function that are associated with reduced contractile function, a cascade of inflammatory responses, perceptual soreness, and a delayed return to optimal physical performance. In this context, recovery from exercise-induced fatigue is traditionally treated from a peripheral viewpoint, with the regeneration of muscle physiology and other peripheral factors the target of recovery strategies. The direction of this research narrative on post-exercise recovery differs to the increasing emphasis on the complex interaction between both central and peripheral factors regulating exercise intensity during exercise performance. Given the role of the central nervous system (CNS) in motor-unit recruitment during exercise, it too may have an integral role in post-exercise recovery. Indeed, this hypothesis is indirectly supported by an apparent disconnect in time-course changes in physiological and biochemical markers resultant from exercise and the ensuing recovery of exercise performance. Equally, improvements in perceptual recovery, even withstanding the physiological state of recovery, may interact with both feed-forward/feed-back mechanisms to influence subsequent efforts. Considering the research interest afforded to recovery methodologies designed to hasten the return of homeostasis within the muscle, the limited focus on contributors to post-exercise recovery from CNS origins is somewhat surprising. Based on this context, the current review aims to outline the potential contributions of the brain to performance recovery after strenuous exercise.

recovery strategies might be broadly differentiated as being either physiological (e.g., cryotherapy, hydrotherapy, massage, compression, sleep), pharmacological (e.g., non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications) or nutritional (e.g., dietary supplements), all mean to limit continued post-exercise disturbances and inflammatory events within the exercised muscle cells. This peripheral focus emphasizes the importance of an accelerated return of structural integrity and functional capacity from below the neuromuscular junction.

Conceptually, if the brain is held as central to the process of performance declines (i.e., fatigue), it stands to reason that it would also have some role in post-exercise recovery (De Pauw et al., 2013).

Classically defined as an exercise-induced reduction in force generating capacity of the muscle, fatigue may be attributed to peripheral contractile failure, sub-optimal motor cortical output (supraspinal fatigue) and/or altered afferent inputs (spinal fatigue) innervating the active musculature (Gandevia, 2001).

Alternatively, concepts of residual fatigue remain predominately within the domain of peripherally driven mechanisms, such as blood flow, muscle glycogen repletion and clearance of metabolic wastes (Bangsbo et al., 2006).

The physical and biochemical changes observed during intermittent-sprint exercise have traditionally been interpreted in terms of metabolic capacity (Glaister, 2005). Indeed, lowered phosphocreatine concentrations (Dawson et al., 1997), reduced glycolytic regeneration of ATP (Gaitanos et al., 1993) and increasing H+ accumulation (Bishop et al., 2003) have all been associated with declining intermittent-sprint performance.

While reductions in muscle excitability after intermittent-sprint exercise have also been observed (Bishop, 2012), metabolic perturbations are rapidly recovered within minutes (Glaister, 2005).

The ultimate indicator of post-exercise recovery is the ability of the muscle to produce force i.e., performance outcomes.

Reductions in skeletal muscle function after intermittent-sprint exercise are often proposed to be caused by a range of peripherally-induced factors, including: intra-muscular glycogen depletion; increased muscle and blood metabolites concentrations; altered Ca++ or Na+-K+ pump function; increased skeletal muscle damage; excessive increases in endogenous muscle and core temperatures; and the reduction in circulatory function via reduced blood volume and hypohydration (Duffield and Coutts, 2011; Bishop, 2012; Nédélec et al., 2012).

Conversely, Krustrup et al. (2006) reported declines in intramuscular glycogen of 42 ± 6% in soccer players, with depleted or almost depleted glycogen stores in ~55% of type I fibers and ~25–45% of type II fibers reasoned to explain acute declines in sprint speed post-match. Importantly, muscle glycogen resynthesis after team sport activity is slow and may remain attenuated for 2–3 days (Nédélec et al., 2012). Such findings highlight the importance of nutrition in post-exercise recovery (Burke et al., 2006); yet it is noteworthy that muscle glycogen stores remain impaired 24 h after a soccer match, irrespective of carbohydrate intake and should be recognized as a factor in sustained post-match suppression of force (Bangsbo et al., 2006; Krustrup et al., 2011).

Mechanical disruptions to the muscle fiber are task dependant, though likely relate to the volume of acceleration, deceleration, directional change and inter-player contact completed (i.e., tackling or collisions) (McLellan et al., 2011; Duffield et al., 2012). Importantly, EIMD manifests in reduced voluntary force production that has been associated with the elevated expression of intracellular proteins (e.g., creatine kinase and C-reactive protein), swelling, restricted range of motion and muscle soreness (Cheung et al., 2003). Whilst it is generally accepted that lowering blood-based muscle damage profiles may hasten athletic recovery, mechanisms explaining the return of skeletal muscle function are somewhat ambiguous (Howatson and Van Someren, 2008).

Interestingly, markers of EIMD are also not closely associated with muscle soreness (Nosaka et al., 2002; Prasartwuth et al., 2005), though perceptual recovery is reportedly related with the recovery of maximal sprint speed (Cook and Beaven, 2013). While this raises questions in terms of the physiological underpinnings of muscle soreness, weaker relationships between EIMD and neuromuscular performance may suggest the potential for other drivers of recovery outside of peripheral (muscle damage or metabolic) factors alone.

Finally, while the relationship between hydration status and intermittent-sprint performance remains contentious (Edwards and Noakes, 2009), fluid deficits of 2–4% are common following team-sport exercise (Duffield and Coutts, 2011). Mild hypohydration reportedly demonstrates limited effects on anaerobic power and vertical jump performance (Hoffman et al., 1995; Cheuvront et al., 2006); however, some caution is required in interpreting these data as these testing protocols reflect only select components of team sport performance.

Nevertheless, the role of hydration in recovery should not be overlooked as changes in extracellular osmolarity are suggested to influence glucose and leucine kinetics (Keller et al., 2003). Further, the negative psychological associations (conscious or otherwise) derived from a greater perceptual effort incurred in a hypohydrated state may impact mental fatigue (Devlin et al., 2001; Mohr et al., 2010).

Rather, that the integrative regulation of whole body disturbances based on these peripheral factors, alongside central regulation may be relevant.

The Role of Carbon Dioxide in Free Radical Reactions of the Organism

Nevner flere måter som CO2 virker som en antioksidant, i tillegg som en beskytter av andre antioksidanter. Dette er en teorietisk gjennomgang.

Click to access 51_335.pdf


Carbon dioxide interacts both with reactive nitrogen species and reactive oxygen species. In the presence of superoxide, NO reacts to form peroxynitrite that reacts with CO2 to give nitrosoperoxycarbonate. This compound rearranges to nitrocarbonate which is prone to further reactions. In an aqueous environment, the most probable reaction is hydrolysis producing carbonate and nitrate. Thus the net effect of CO2 is scavenging of peroxynitrite and prevention of nitration and oxidative damage. However, in a nonpolar environment of membranes, nitrocarbonate undergoes other reactions leading to nitration of proteins and oxidative damage. When NO reacts with oxygen in the absence of superoxide, a nitrating species N2O3 is formed. CO2 interacts with N2O3 to produce a nitrosyl compound that, under physiological pH, is hydrolyzed to nitrous and carbonic acid. In this way, CO2 also prevents nitration reactions. CO2 protects superoxide dismutase against oxidative damage induced by hydrogen peroxide. However, in this reaction carbonate radicals are formed which can propagate the oxidative damage. It was found that hypercapnia in vivo protects against the damaging effects of ischemia or hypoxia. Several mechanisms have been suggested to explain the protective role of CO2 in vivo. The most significant appears to be stabilization of the iron-transferrin complex which prevents the involvement of iron ions in the initiation of free radical reactions.

CO2 er en antioksidant

CO2 sin relasjon til pH

Tabell som viser sammenhengen mellom CO2 og pH. CO2 mellom 35-45 er normalt, over eller under dette kaller man det alkalose eller acidose. Med Metabolsk Pust ( ønsker vi å få CO2 opp mot 40-50 mmHg. Legg merke til at også HCO3- økes når CO2 økes i blod. Bikarbonat kalles det og er det stoffet som er i Natron.

Click to access Oxygenation%20and%20oxygen%20therapy.pdf


PaCO2 (mm Hg)





























Tabell som viser hvordan O2 og CO2 synker når man kommer opp i høyden.

TABLE V. Gas Pressures at Various Altitudes*









Sea Level
























*Pikes’s Peak








*Mt. Everest








*All pressures in mm Hg; Pike’s Peak and Mt. Everest data from summits

Effects of a 4-week training with voluntary hypoventilation carried out at low pulmonary volumes

Spennende studie som viser hvordan lav pustefrekvens i selve trening påvirker restitusjonen etterpå. F.eks. hvordan bikarbonat/natron (HCO3-) påvirker melkesyreterskel. Teknikken bestod i å holde pusten 4 sekunder etter utpust, i bolker a 5minutter i løpet av treningsperioden. Det gir spesielt lite oksygen i blodet, som gir mange positive resultater.

Helle studien her:,d.bGE

This study investigated the effects of training with voluntary hypoventilation (VH) at low pulmonary volumes. Two groups of moderately trained runners, one using hypoventilation (HYPO, n = 7) and one control group (CONT, n = 8), were constituted. The training consisted in performing 12 sessions of 55 min within 4 weeks. In each session, HYPO ran 24 min at 70% of maximal O2 consumption (View the MathML source) with a breath holding at functional residual capacity whereas CONT breathed normally. A View the MathML source and a time to exhaustion test (TE) were performed before (PRE) and after (POST) the training period. There was no change in View the MathML source, lactate threshold or TE in both groups at POST vs. PRE. At maximal exercise, blood lactate concentration was lower in CONT after the training period and remained unchanged in HYPO. At 90% of maximal heart rate, in HYPO only, both pH (7.36 ± 0.04 vs. 7.33 ± 0.06; p < 0.05) and bicarbonate concentration (20.4 ± 2.9 mmol L−1 vs. 19.4 ± 3.5; p < 0.05) were higher at POST vs. PRE. The results of this study demonstrate that VH training did not improve endurance performance but could modify the glycolytic metabolism. The reduced exercise-induced blood acidosis in HYPO could be due to an improvement in muscle buffer capacity. This phenomenon may have a significant positive impact on anaerobic performance.

Functional Anatomy of Muscle – Muscle, Nociceptors and Afferent Fibers

Svært mye interessant om nervesystemets rolle i muskler og smerte.

Spesielt at det er ingen frie nerveender i muskelcellene, men bare i blodkarene i musklene. Derfor reagerer vi med smerte på betennelser og lav pH i blodet, mens trykksensitiviteten kun sitter i huden.

Den nevner at pH sensibiliteten er den viktigste smertebidraget fordi pH synker i de fleste patologiske tilstander, f.eks. hard trening eller skade.

Den nevner at det er mer SP (Substans P, som er relatert til smerte) i huden enn i muskler.

Nevner at frie nerveender ikke går til kapillærer eller muskelceller, bare til arterioler og venuler.

Nevner også innervering av bindevev, og at dette feltet foreløpig er lite studert og oversett. Spesielt viser de til at Toracolumbar Facia (i korsryggen) har størst innervasjon av C-fiber nociceptorer(som inneholder SP) under huden, og litt i multifidene.

En nociceptor er ikke bare en passiv mottaker av impulser, men er også en aktiv deltaker i vevets tilstand når det gjelder betennelser og blodsirkulasjon for de sender nevropetider ut fra doresalhornet til vevet (antidromiske impulser). Altså motsatt vei av reseptor-signalretningen.

CGRP virker vasodilerende, mens SP gjør at blodkarveggenes permeabilitet øker. Når permeabiliteten øker siver det ut proteiner og stoffer som egentlig ikke skal være i vevet, og da økes betennelser og immunsystemets aktivitet. Så det er SP vi ønsker å dempe først og fremst.,d.bGE

The predominant location of free nerve endings supplied by group IV fibers was the adventitia of arterioles and venules. Surprisingly, muscle fibers themselves did not receive direct innervation by free nerve endings. Group III afferents generated not only free nerve endings but also paciniform corpuscles, whereas group IV fibers terminated exclusively in free nerve endings.The high sensitivity of the free nerve endings to chemical stimuli, particularly to those accompanying inflammatory lesions or disturbances of the microcirculation, may be related to their location on or in the walls of the blood vessels. The finding that the muscle fibers proper are not supplied by free nerve endings (Reinert et al. 1998) may relate to the clinical experience that muscle cell death is usually not painful, at least not if it occurs slowly, as for instance during muscular dystrophy, polymyositis, or dermatomyositis. A different situation is tearing of a muscle fiber bundle, which can be extremely painful. In this condi- tion, many muscle cells are destroyed simultaneously and release their contents (e.g., K+ ions and ATP) in the interstitial space, from where they can diffuse to the next nociceptive endings.
In skeletal muscle, the free nerve endings appear to be distributed quite evenly in the proximodistal direction. At least, in a quantitative evaluation of the inner- vation density by neuropeptide-(SP- and CGRP-) containing fibers, no difference between the proximal and distal portions of the rat gastrocnemius–soleus (GS) muscle was found (Reinert et al. 1998). Therefore, a higher innervation density at the transition zone between muscle and tendon is not a probable explanation for the frequent pain in this region.

However, in the same study the nerve fiber density in the peritendineum (the connective tissue around a tendon) of the rat calcaneal tendon was found to be several times higher than that in the GS muscle. In contrast, the collagen fiber bundles of the tendon tissue proper were almost free of free nerve endings. The high fiber density in the peritendineum may explain the high prevalence of tenderness or pain in the tissue around the tendon and the insertion site. The scarcity of nerve endings in the center of the tendon may relate to the clinical observation that (incomplete) ruptures of the tendon may occur without pain.

Judging from their respon- siveness to pain-producing agents, the following receptor molecules are likely to be relevant for muscle pain and tenderness (Mense and Meyer 1985; Caterina and David 1999; McCleskey and Gold 1999; Mense 2007):

  • Bradykinin (BKN) receptors (B1 and B2). BKN is cleaved from blood plasma proteins when a blood vessel breaks or increases its permeability so that plasma proteins enter the interstitial space. In intact tissue, BKN excites nerve endings by the activation of the BKN receptor molecule B2, whereas under pathological conditions (e.g., inflammation) the receptor B1 is the predominant one (Perkins and Kelly 1993; for a review of receptor molecules mediating the effects of classic inflammatory (pain-producing or algesic) substances, see Kumazawa 1996).
  • Serotonin receptors (particularly 5-HT3). Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamin, 5-HT) is released from blood platelets during blood clotting. The stimulating effects of serotonin on nociceptive terminals in the body periphery are predomi- nantly mediated by the 5-HT3 receptor (at present, more than 15 different 5-HT receptors are known in the CNS). The serotonin concentrations released in the tissue are usually not sufficient to excite nociceptors directly, but they can sen- sitize them, i.e., make them more sensitive to other pain-producing agents such as BKN.
  • Prostaglandins, particularly prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Prostaglandins (PGs) are released in a pathologically altered muscle by the enzymatic action of cycloox- igenases. PGE2 binds to a G protein-coupled prostanoid receptor (EP2) in the membrane of the nociceptive ending. Similarly to serotonin, PGE2 sensitizes nociceptors rather than exciting them under (patho)physiological circumstances (Mense 1981).
  • Acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs). ASICs constitute a family of receptor molecules that are sensitive to a drop in pH and open at various pH values. The channel proteins react already to small pH changes, for instance from pH 7.4 to 7.1. This receptor family (for instance ASIC1 and ASIC3) is particularly impor- tant for muscle pain, because almost all pathologic changes in muscle are accom- panied by a drop in tissue pH, e.g., exhausting exercise, ischemia, and inflammation (Immke and McCleskey 2003). In these conditions, the pH of the muscle tissue can drop to 5–6. The proton-sensitive nociceptors may also be of importance for the induction of chronic muscle pain. Repeated intramuscular injections of acidic solutions have been reported to induce a long-lasting hyper- algesia (Sluka et al. 2001).
  • P2X3 receptors. This receptor is a subtype of the purinergic receptors that are activated by ATP and its derivatives (Burnstock 2007; Ding et al. 2000). ATP is the energy-carrying molecule in all cells of the body; accordingly, it is present in every tissue cell. It is released from all tissues during trauma and other pathologic changes that are associated with cell death. For this reason, ATP has been considered a general signal substance for tissue trauma and pain (Cook and McCleskey 2002). ATP is particularly important for muscle pain, because it is present in muscle cells in high concentration (Stewart et al. 1994). When injected into human muscle, ATP causes pain (Mo ̈rk et al. 2003).
  • Transient receptor potential receptor subtype 1 (TRPV1) formerly called VR1. This receptor is one of the most important molecules for the induction of pain. The natural stimulant for the TRPV1 receptor is Capsaicin, the active ingredient of chilli peppers (Caterina and Julius 2001). The receptor is also sensitive to an increase in H+-concentration and to heat, with a threshold of approximately 39C. Its endoge- nous ligands are H+-ions.
  • Other TRP receptors. TRPV4 is a mechanosensitive ion channel that is sensitive to both weak and strong (noxious) intensities of local pressure (Liedtke 2005). It may be the receptor for mediating pain evoked by pinching and squeezing.
  • Tyrosine kinase A (TrkA) receptor. The ligand of this receptor is NGF (Caterina and David 1999). NGF is well-known for its sensitizing action on nociceptors in the body periphery and neurons in the CNS; it is synthesized in muscle, and its synthesis is increased during pathophysiological changes of the muscle (e.g., inflammation, Menetrey et al. 2000; Pezet and McMahon 2006).
  • Glutamate receptors. There is evidence indicating that the NMDA receptor (one of the receptors for glutamate) is present on nociceptive endings in masticatory muscles. Injections of glutamate into the masseter muscle in human subjects induced a reduction in pressure pain threshold which was attenuated by coinjection with ketamine, an NMDA receptor antagonist (Cairns et al. 2006).
Substances exciting muscle nociceptors independent of membrane receptors.
  • Hypertonic saline: injections of NaCl solutions (4.5–6.0%) have long been and still are used to elicit pain from deep somatic tissues (Kellgren 1938; for review, see Graven-Nielsen 2006).
  • Potassium ions: The most likely explanation for the excitatory action of high concentrations of extracellular potassium ions is a depolarization of the membrane potential due to a reduction of the inside–outside potassium gradient (usually the potassium concentration inside the axon is much higher).

DRG cells projecting in a cutaneous nerve have been reported to contain SP, CGRP, and somatostatin (SOM).

In comparison to skin nerves, muscle nerves appear to contain less SP. This finding makes sense, because the vasodilatation and plasma extrava- sation caused by the release of SP and CGRP from free nerve endings (see below) would be dangerous for skeletal muscles, since many of them are surrounded by a tight fascia. Therefore, an SP-induced muscle edema would result in a high increase in interstitial pressure, and could cause muscle necrosis.

In a study on functionally identified DRG cells employing a combination of electrophysiological and immunohistochemical techniques, Lawson et al.(1997) reported that cells terminating in cutaneous nociceptive endings showed a strong tendency to express SP, particularly if they had a slow conduction velocity or a small soma in the DRG. 

The peptides are synthesized in the somas of the DRG or in ganglion cells of cranial nerves. They are transported to both the central and the peripheral terminal of the primary afferent unit.

In a quantitative evaluation of neuropeptide-containing free nerve endings and preterminal axons (both characterized by varicosities) in the GS muscle of the rat, most endings were found around small blood vessels (arterioles or venules), whereas capillaries and the muscle cells proper were not contacted by these end- ings.

Efferent or motor fibers conduct action potentials from the CNS to the periphery; their soma is located in the spinal cord or brainstem and the fibers leave the CNS via the ventral root or cranial nerve motor roots. An exception are postganglionic sympathetic fibers whose cell bodies are mostly located in the sympathetic trunk (e.g., vasomotor fibers that constrict blood vessels).

The nerve to a locomotor muscle in the cat (the lateral GS) is composed of approximately one-third myelinated (720) and two-thirds unmyelinated (2,480) fibers (Table 2.2; Mitchell and Schmidt 1983; Stacey 1969). Nearly one quarter of the myelinated (group III) fibers had nociceptive properties in neurophysio- logical experiments (Mense and Meyer 1985). Of the unmyelinated fibers, 50% are sensory (group IV), and of these, approximately 55% have been found to be nociceptive in the rat (Hoheisel et al. 2005).

Data obtained from one muscle nerve cannot be transferred directly to other muscle nerves, because considerable differences exist between different muscles. For instance, neck muscle nerves of the cat contain unusually high numbers of sensory group III receptors (Abrahams et al. 1984). One possible explanation for these differences is that the muscles have different functions and environmental conditions: in contrast to the neck muscles, which must register the orientation of the head in relation to the body in fine detail, the locomotor hindlimb muscles often have to contract with maximal strength and under ischemic conditions.

In addition to nociceptors, there are other muscle receptors whose function is essential for the understanding of muscle pain:

  • Muscle spindles are complex receptive structures that consist of several specialized muscle fibers (the so-called intrafusal muscle fibers; the name is derived from their location inside the spindle-shaped connective tissue sheath. Accordingly, all the “normal” muscle fibers outside the spindle are “extrafusal” fibers). Muscle spindles measure the length and the rate of length changes of the muscle, i.e., their discharge rate increases with increasing muscle length and with increasing velocity of the length change.
  • Golgi (tendon) organs measure the tension of the muscle. They are arranged in series with the extrafusal muscle fibers; their location is the transition zone between muscle and tendon. The supplying fiber is the Ib afferent, whose structure is identical to the Ia fiber (thick myelin sheath and high conduction velocity). The receptor has a much simpler structure than the muscle spindle; it consists of receptive endings that are interwoven between the collagen fiber bundles of the tendon.
  • Muscle spindles and Golgi organs are proprioceptors, i.e., they measure the internal state of the body.
  • Pacinian corpuscles (PC) and paciniform corpuscles. These receptors do not respond to static pressure; they require dynamically changing mechanical stimuli, and are best excited by vibrations of relatively high frequency (close to 300 Hz; Kandel et al. 2000). The receptive ending is formed like a rod, and covered by several concentric membranes which give the receptor an onion-like appearance in cross-sections.

At present, little information is available about the innervation of fascia. This is an important gap in our knowledge, because fascia is an important component of the musculoskeletal system and likely to contribute to many forms of pain that are subsumed under the label “muscle” pain. One example is low back pain: The thoracolumbar fascia (TF) plays an essential role in body posture and trunk move- ments (Bogduk and Macintosh 1984). It is not only a passive transmitter of mechanical forces of the low back and abdominal muscles but also contractile by itself (Schleip et al. 2005).

In the connective tissue around the superficial lamina of the TF we found many CGRP- and SP-containing free nerve endings. The majority of the fibers were located in the subcutaneous layer, as well as between the fascia and the surface of the multifidus muscle (Fig. 2.8). The SP-positive endings are of particular interest, because they are thought to be nociceptors.
The loose connective tissue around the TF is probably deformed during any trunk movement, and therefore the free nerve endings are strategically situated to sense any disorders in these movements. It is conceivable that overload of the fascia puts mechanical stress and irritation on the endings, and thus may contribute to low back pain.
SP then releases histamine from mast cells, and together with CGRP these agents cause vasodilatation and an increase in vascular permeability of the blood vessels around the active ending. The result is a shift of blood plasma from the intravascular to the interstitial space. Outside the blood vessel, BKN is cleaved from the plasma protein kallidin, serotonin (5-HT) is set free from platelets, and PGs (particularly PGE2) from endothelial and other tissue cells. All these substances sensitize nociceptors. Thus, the main tissue alteration induced by a nondestructive noxious mechanical stimulus is a localized region of vasodilatation, edema, and sensitized nociceptors.
A nociceptor is not a passive sensor of tissue-threatening stimuli; it actively influences the microcirculation and chemical composition of the intersti- tial space around it.
If a noxious stimulus activates only one part of the ending, the action potentials originating in that region of the ending can invade antidromically (against the normal direction of propagation) those branches of the ending that were not excited by the stimulus. These antidromic action potentials release neuropeptides from the unstimulated branches. The whole process is called the axon reflex.  It is assumed to be the reason for the visible wheal and flare around a cutaneous lesion.

The vascular permeability is increased mainly by SP (and by the neurokinins A and B; Gamse and Saria 1985), whereas CGRP is assumed to act primarily as a vasodilator. There is evidence showing that CGRP enhances the plasma extravasation induced by SP and neurokinins A and B, but reduces the vasodilatory action of SP by desensitizing muscle arterioles to the peptide (O ̈ hle ́n et al. 1988).

The area of wheal and flare after a localized damage to the skin – for instance around a needle prick – could be an indicator of the extent of the excited nocicep- tive ending.

The size of the receptive fields (RFs) of cutaneous polymodal nociceptors was found to be less than 2 mm in cat (Bessou and Perl 1969) and 6–32 mm in rabbit (Kenins 1988). A receptive field is that region of the body from which a receptive ending (or a central sensory neuron) can be excited. The above figures are larger than the reported length of the branches of a nociceptor ending (a few hundred mm; Stacey 1969).

The release of SP, CGRP, neurokinin A, and other agents from nociceptors is the central factor in the cascade of events that lead to neurogenic inflammation in the periphery (Lembeck and Holzer 1979). Neurogenic inflammation is characterized by tissue edema and infiltration by immune cells, i.e., it exhibits the major histo- logical signs of a (sterile) inflammation. It develops whenever action potentials are generated not at the receptive ending but somewhere along the course of primary afferent units (spinal nerve or dorsal root). The action potentials propagate both to the CNS (causing pain) and to the peripheral ending (causing release of neuropep- tides and neurogenic inflammation). The published data indicate that vasodilatation can be elicited by antidromic stimulation of both Ad- and C fibers, but increase in vascular permeability and plasma extravasation by stimulation of C fibers only.

Neuropathies and radiculopathies and other pathological conditions that are asso- ciated with antidromic activity in sensory nerve fibers are examples of such events (Marchand et al. 2005). Neurogenic inflammation is likely to increase the dysesthe- sia and pain of patients suffering from neuropathies.

Inflammatory disorders are usually accompanied by sensitization of peri- pheral nociceptors, which is one source of inflammatory pain (for details, see Chap. 3). 

Apnea: A new training method in sport?

Veldig viktig studie om hva dykkeres trening i Apnea (å holde pusten) kan bidra med i annen idrett. Bekrefter det meste av det jeg har skrevet om, men oppklarer noe om blodverdier bl.a. Nevner EPO, nyrenes tilpasning, hypoxi, HIF-1, melkesyre, lungevolum

Breath-hold divers have shown reduced blood acidosis, oxidative stress and basal metabolic rate, and increased hematocrit, erythropoietin concentration, hemoglobin mass and lung volumes. We hypothesise that these adaptations contributed to long apnea durations and improve performance. These results suggest that apnea training may be an effective alternative to hypo- baric or normobaric hypoxia to increase aerobic and/or anaerobic performance.

Apnea durations clearly increase with training. Perhaps less well known are the findings that apnea train- ing also increases hematocrit (Hct), erythropoietin (EPO) concen- tration, hemoglobin (Hb) mass, and lung volumes [2–5]. In addition, blood acidosis and oxidative stress were shown to be re- duced after three months of apnea training [6,7]. Therefore, why not encourage apnea training for athletes?

The major determinant of aerobic performance is the capacity to deliver oxygen to the tissues [8]. An increase in the total amount of erythrocytes, as reflected by increased Hct and Hb mass, is med- iated by the glycoprotein hormone EPO, which is predominantly synthesized by the kidneys in response to chronic hypoxia [9] and to some extent (10–15% of total production) by the liver. EPO stimulates the proliferation and maturation of red blood cell precursors in bone marrow, increasing oxygen delivery to muscle and thereby enhancing sports performance [9].

(hypoxic or ischemic conditions) results in a stabilization of the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1a, which increases EPO secretion and the expression of EPO receptor [10].

Furthermore, any training effect vanishes rapidly (two weeks), as the newly formed red cells disappear within a mat- ter of days due to neocytolysis.

The splenic contraction effect

Apnea training may well be a future training method. Splenic contraction has been described in marine mammals as improving oxygen transport, through an increase in circulating erythrocytes. Its consequence is a prolonged dive without injuries. In humans, repeated apneas (five, in general) induce splenic contraction. This increases Hct and Hb (both between 2% and 5%) independently of hemoconcentration [19] and reduces arterial oxygen desaturation, thereby prolonging the apnea duration [3,19–22].

Repeated apneas are known to induce hypoxemia in the spleen and kidney, increas- ing respectively Hct and Hb and serum EPO concentrations [2,23].

First, the splenic contraction develops quickly after three or four apneas separated by two minutes of recovery and is associ- ated with a transient increase in Hb concentration. The amplitude of the spleen volume reduction after repeated apneas, with or without face immersion, varies widely (20–46%) depending on the rate of change in oxygenation [3,19,22,25–27]. The rapidity of the splenic contraction after simulated apneas strongly suggested a centrally-mediated feed-forward mechanism rather than the influ- ence of slower peripheral triggers [19]. These spleen and Hb re- sponses may be trainable.

Second, DeBruijns et al. [2] recently observed that repeated apneas increased EPO concentration by 24%, with the peak value reached 3 h after the last apnea and a return to baseline 2 h later.

The rapid reduction in tissue oxygen levels that oc- curs during apneas has been suggested to stimulate enhanced EPO production [25]. The decreased kidney blood flow induced by apneic vasoconstriction would result in local ischemic hypoxia, stimulating kidney EPO production. Similarly, obstructive sleep ap- nea increases the levels of EPO (􏰀1.6) and Hb (+18%) [24].

The lower SaO2 decrease found in trained divers after repeated apneas may account for the reduced oxygen delivery because of the diving response (bradycardia and vasocon- striction) and/or an increase in oxygen content [1].

Long term-effects

Another important consideration is the persistence of the per- formance gains. Most of the altitude exposure studies reported short-term effects (i.e., weeks). Repeated apneas increase Hct but this increase disappears within 10min after the last apnea [22,26].

The effects of repeated apneas on spleen and endogenous EPO may also constitute an alternative to using rhEPO or its analogues. In addition, comparison of resting Hb mass in elite BHDs and untrained subjects showed a 5% higher Hb mass in the BHDs, and the BHDs also showed a larger relative increase in Hb after three apneas (2.7%). The long-term effect of apnea training on Hb mass might be implicated in elite divers’ performances. Re- cently, it has been found that after a 3-month apnea training pro- gram, the forced expiratory volume in 1 s was higher (4.85 ± 0.78 vs. 4.94 ± 0.81 L, p < 0.05), with concomitant increases in the max- imal oxygen uptake, arterial oxygen saturation, and respiratory compensation point values during an incremental test [30].

In addition to increasing EPO and provoking splenic contraction, apnea training has been hypothesized to modify muscle glycolytic metabolism. An improvement in muscle buffer capacity [6,7,32] would reduce blood acidosis and post-apnea oxidative stress [6]. Delayed acidosis would also be advantageous for exercise perfor- mance. Finally, trained BHDs exhibit high lung volumes [15]. Ap- nea training might be interesting to improve respiratory muscle performance [15], thereby delaying the respiratory muscle fatigue during prolonged and maximal exercise.

Greater cerebral blood flow (CBF) increase was described during long apnea in elite BHDs than in controls and interpreted as a protection of the brain against the alteration of blood gas [33]. The CBF increase observed in BHDs could be the re- sult of an increased capillary density in the brain as has been de- scribed after a prolonged hypobaric hypoxia exposure [35]. These results suggest that apnea training per se provides hypoxic precon- ditioning, increasing hypoxemia and ischemia tolerance [33].

The physiological responses to apnea training exhibited by elite breath-hold divers may contribute to improving sports perfor- mance. These adaptations may be an effective alternative to hypo- baric or normobaric hypoxia to increase performance. Further experimental research of the apnea training effects on aerobic and/or anaerobic performance are needed to confirm this theory.