Changes in the metabolites phosphocreatine (PCr), Pi and ATP were quantified by 31P n.m.r. spectroscopy in the human calf muscle during isometric contraction and recovery under ischaemic conditions. Time resolution of the measurements was 10 s. During a 30-60 s ischaemic isometric contraction, PCr decreased linearly at a rate of 1.17%/s (relative to the resting value) at a contraction strength equivalent to 70% of the maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and at a rate of 2.43%/s at 90% MVC. There was a corresponding increase in Pi but the concentration of ATP did not change. pH decreased linearly during contraction by 4.22 and 8.23 milli-pH units/s at 70 and 90% MVC respectively. During a subsequent 5 min interval of ischaemic recovery, PCr, Pi, ATP, phosphomonoesters and calculated free ADP, free AMP and pH retained the value they had attained by the end of contraction with no significant recovery. Thus it is concluded that anaerobic glycolysis and glycogenolysis is halted momentarily on termination of contraction and that PCr is not resynthesized during ischaemic recovery. This paradoxical arrest of glycolytic flow in spite of the very significantly elevated concentration of potent activators such as Pi and free AMP clearly indicates that parameters other than PCr, ATP, Pi, calculated pH, free ADP and free AMP regulate glycolysis and glycogenolysis of human skeletal muscle very efficiently under ischaemic conditions.

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