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This study examined the aging effect on disuse muscle atrophy prevention using heat stress. Wistar rats aged 7 and 60 weeks were divided into three groups as follows: control, immobilized (Im), and immobilized and heat stressed (ImH). Heat stress was given by immersing the hindlimbs in hot water (42 °C) for 60 min, once in every 3 days and the gastrocnemius (GAS) and soleus (SOL) muscles were extracted after 14 days. Muscle-fiber types were classified using ATPase staining. Heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) was assessed through Western blotting. In GAS muscle of both groups and SOL muscle of 7-week-old rats, the fiber diameter of each muscle type in the ImH group significantly increased compared with that in the Im group. However, this could not be observed in the SOL muscle of the 60-week-old rats. The increased percentage of type-I fibers and variability of types I and II muscle-fiber diameter were evident in the SOL muscle of the 60-week rats. HSP70 was significantly elevated in the ImH group compared with in the Im group in both muscle types of both age groups. Thus, effectiveness of heat stress in the prevention of disuse muscle atrophy appears unsatisfactory in aging muscle fibers.

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This study aimed to evaluate neuromuscular activation in the scalene and sternocleidomastoid muscles using surface electromyography (EMG) during progressively increased inspiratory flow, produced by increasing the respiratory rate under inspiratory-resistive loading using a mask ventilator. Moreover, we attempted to identify the EMG inflection point (EMGIP) on the graph, at which the root mean square (RMS) of the EMG signal values of the inspiratory muscles against the inspiratory flow velocity acceleration abruptly increases, similarly to the EMG anaerobic threshold (EMGAT) reported during incremental-resistive loading in other skeletal muscles. We measured neuromuscular activation of healthy male subjects and found that the inspiratory flow velocity increased by approximately 1.6-fold. We successfully observed an increase in RMS that corresponded to inspiratory flow acceleration with ρ ≥ 0.7 (Spearman’s rank correlation) in 17 of 27 subjects who completed the experimental protocol. To identify EMGIP, we analyzed the fitting to either a straight or non-straight line related to the increasing inspiratory flow and RMS using piecewise linear spline functions. As a result, EMGIP was identified in the scalene and sternocleidomastoid muscles of 17 subjects. We believe that the identification of EMGIP in this study infers the existence of EMGAT in inspiratory muscles. Application of surface EMG, followed by identification of EMGIP, for evaluating the neuromuscular activation of respiratory muscles may be allowed to estimate the signs of the respiratory failure, including labored respiration, objectively and non-invasively accompanied using accessory muscles in clinical respiratory care.

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