We examined the effect of taurine on depolarisation-induced force responses and sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) function in mechanically skinned skeletal muscle fibres from the extensor digitorum longus (EDL) of the rat. Taurine (20 mm) produced a small but significant (P < 0.01) decrease in the sensitivity of the contractile apparatus to Ca2+ (increase in the [Ca2+] corresponding to 50 % of maximum force of about 7 %; n = 10) and in maximum force (92.0 ± 1.0 % of controls) in the skinned fibres. Taurine had no statistically significant effect on the slope of the force-pCa curve. Depolarisation-induced force responses in the skinned fibres were markedly increased in peak value by 20 mm taurine, to 120.8 ± 5.3 % of control measurements (P = 0.0006, n = 27). Taurine (20 mm) significantly increased the SR Ca2+ accumulation in the skinned fibres by 34.6 ± 9.3 % compared to control conditions (measured by comparing the integral of caffeine contractures in fibres previously loaded with Ca2+ in the absence or presence of taurine; P = 0.0014, n = 10). Taurine (20 mm) also increased both the peak and rate of rise of caffeine-induced force responses in the fibres by 29.2 ± 9.7 % (P = 0.0298, n = 6) and 27.6 ± 8.9 % (P = 0.037), respectively, compared with controls. This study shows that taurine is a modulator of contractile function in mammalian skeletal muscle. Taurine may increase the size of depolarisation-induced force responses by augmenting SR Ca2+ accumulation and release
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