High-energy phosphate metabolism during incremental calf exercise in humans measured by 31 phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy (31P MRS)

Magn Reson Imaging. 2004 Jan;22(1):109-15. doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2003.07.001.


Several previous 31 phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((31)P MRS) studies performing incremental or progressive muscle exercises have observed that a decrease in pH is accompanied with an acceleration in phosphocreatine (PCr) hydrolysis. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between PCr breakdown and pH during isotonic, exhaustive, incremental plantar flexion exercises. We included eight healthy, male volunteers into this study. Using a 1.5 Tesla MR scanner and a self-built exercise bench, we performed serial free induction decay (FID) (31)P MRS measurements with a time resolution of 1 min at rest, isotonic calf muscle exercise, and recovery. The exercise protocol consisted of 5-min intervals with 4.5, 6, 7.5, and 9 W workload followed by 9-min recovery. Changes in PCr and inorganic phosphate (Pi) were determined as percent changes in comparison to the baseline. In addition, pH values were calculated. This study obtained significant decreases in PCr corresponding to the gradual increases in workload. In each workload level that was succeeded by all volunteers, PCr hydrolysis passed into a steady state. After an early biphasic response, we detected a significant decrease in pH from the first to the second minute of the 6-W workload level followed by a further continuous decrease in pH up to the second minute of the recovery phase. The decrease in pH was not accompanied by acceleration in PCr hydrolysis. In conclusion, this study shows that PCr hydrolysis during incremental plantar flexion exercises passes into a steady state at different workload levels. The observed decrease in pH does not result in acceleration of PCr hydrolysis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Phosphates / metabolism*


  • Phosphates