Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : The force enhancement of a twitch after a maximal conditioning muscle contraction [i.e., postactivation potentiation (PAP)] is reduced with aging, but its influence on the summation of force in response to repetitive stimulation at different frequencies is not known. The purpose of this work was to compare the electrically evoked mechanical responses of the tibialis anterior muscle between young and elderly adults after a 6-s maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). The results showed that, immediately after the conditioning MVC, twitch torque and its maximal rate of development and relaxation were significantly enhanced in both groups, but the magnitude of potentiation was greater in young (148.0 +/- 14.2, 123.7 +/- 16.5, and 185.4 +/- 36.5%, respectively) compared with elderly adults (87.4 +/- 15.2, 63.8 +/- 9.9, and 62.9 +/- 11.0%, respectively). This age-related difference in potentiation of the twitch disappeared completely 1 min after the conditioning MVC. The potentiation of torque and speed-related parameters in response to two- and three-pulse trains, delivered at a constant interval of 10 ms (100 Hz), was less than for a single pulse for both groups. In young adults, the magnitude of PAP on the successive individual mechanical contributions within a train of stimuli declined progressively such that the third contribution did not differ significantly from the same contribution before the conditioning MVC. In contrast, the second and third contributions did not potentiate (P > 0.05) in elderly adults. Although these contributions did potentiate significantly at a lower frequency of stimulation (20 Hz) in the two groups, the difference in PAP between young and elderly adults still persisted. This overall attenuation of potentiation with aging, however, appears to have a moderate influence on the decrement of the muscular performance.