Carbon monoxide inhalation reduces skeletal muscle fatigue resistance

CI Morse, LJ Pritchard, RC Wust, David Jones, H Degens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


AIM: To determine whether inhalation of carbon monoxide (CO), resulting in carboxyhaemoglobin (COHb) levels observed in smokers, had an effect on muscle fatigue during electrically evoked and voluntary muscle contractions. METHODS: Young non-smoking males inspired CO from a Douglas bag until their COHb level reached 6%. During the control condition the same participants inspired ambient air from a Douglas bag for 6 min. Fatigue was assessed as the decline in torque in isometric knee extensions, during 2 min of electrically evoked contractions (30 Hz, 1 s on, 1 s off) and during 2 min of maximal isometric voluntary contractions (1 s on, 1 s off). A fatigue index (FI) was calculated as the ratio of final torque : initial torque. Time to peak torque (TPT) and half relaxation time ((1/2)RT) were also determined for the electrically evoked contractions. RESULTS: The FI during both the voluntary fatigue test (control: 0.80 +/- 0.09 vs. CO: 0.70 +/- 0.08; mean +/- SD) and that of the fatigue test with electrically evoked contractions (control: 0.61 +/- 0.09 vs. CO: 0.53 +/- 0.12) was significantly lower after CO inhalation than after inhalation of ambient air (P <0.05). There was, however, no effect of CO on the changes in TPT or (1/2)RT during the fatigue test. CONCLUSION: Carbon monoxide inhalation resulting in COHb levels found in smokers has an acute impact on the ability of the muscle to resist fatigue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-401
Number of pages5
JournalActa Physiologica
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • quadriceps
  • smoking
  • electrical stimulation


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