Angelo Mosso and muscular fatigue: 116 years after the first Congress of Physiologists: IUPS commemoration

Adv Physiol Educ. 2006 Jun;30(2):51-7. doi: 10.1152/advan.00041.2005.


At the first International Congress of Physiologists in Basel, Switzerland, the Italian physiologist Angelo Mosso (1846-1910) discussed his findings on muscular fatigue while demonstrating the functioning of an ergograph (work recorder). One hundred sixteen years later, Mosso's career, scientific accomplishments, and legacy in the study of muscular fatigue were commemorated at the 2005 International Congress of Physiological Sciences. After receiving his degree in Medicine and Surgery from Turin, Italy, in 1870, Mosso was able to study and interact with renowned physiologists as Wilhelm Ludwig, Du Bois-Reymond, Hugo Kronecker, and Etienne Marey. By 1879, he was Professor of Physiology at the University in Turin, where he conducted research pertaining to blood circulation, respiration, physical education, high-altitude physiology, and muscular fatigue. Using tracings from the ergograph (concentric contractions of the flexor muscles of the middle finger that were volitionally or electrically stimulated), he was able to characterize muscle fatigue and to associate its occurrence with central or peripheral influences. He demonstrated that exercise would increase muscular strength and endurance while prolonging the occurrence of fatigue, which he postulated was a chemical process that involved the production of toxic substances such as carbonic acid. The phenomenon of contracture was described, and his collective studies led to the formulation of laws pertaining to exhaustion and to the 1891 publication of La Fatica (Fatigue). Besides La Fatica, Mosso will be remembered as a scientist with a love for physiology, a concern for the social welfare of his countrymen, and as one who sought to integrate physiological, philosophical, and psychological concepts in his experimental studies.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Portrait

MeSH terms

  • Congresses as Topic / history*
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology*
  • Physiology / history*

Personal name as subject

  • Angelo Mosso