Preconditioning contractions (PCs) have been shown to markedly improve recovery from force depression after damaging eccentric contractions (ECCs). Here, we examined the mechanism underlying the effects of PCs with special focus on the SH3 and cysteine rich domain 3 (STAC3) that is essential for the transduction of action potential to the Ca2+ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum. Rat medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscles were removed immediately (REC0), 1 d (REC1), and 4 d (REC4) after exposure to 100 repeated in vivo damaging ECCs. PCs with 10 repeated nondamaging ECCs were applied 2 d before the damaging ECCs. Damaging ECCs induced in vivo isometric torque depression at 50 and 100 Hz stimulation frequencies at REC1 and REC4, which was accompanied by a significant reduction in the amount of STAC3, an activation of calpain 1, and an increased number of Evans Blue dye positive fibers in MG muscles. Importantly, PCs attenuated all these deleterious alterations induced by damaging ECCs. Moreover, mechanistic experiments performed on normal muscle tissue exposed to various concentration of Ca2+ showed a Ca2+-dependent proteolysis of STAC3, which was prevented by calpain inhibitor MDL-28170. In conclusion, PCs improve recovery from force depression after damaging ECCs, presumably by inhibiting the loss of STAC3 due to the increased permeability of cell membrane and subsequent activation of calpain 1.

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