Many patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) suffer from severe residual fatigue that has an uncertain basis. We determined the relative contribution of peripheral and central factors during a 2-min fatiguing sustained maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) in 10 neurologically well-recovered GBS patients and 12 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Physiological fatigue was defined as the decline of voluntary force during an MVC of the biceps brachii. Relative amounts of peripheral fatigue and central activation failure were determined combining voluntary force and force responses to electrical stimulation. Surface electromyography was used to determine muscle-fiber conduction velocity. During the first minute of sustained MVC, peripheral fatigue developed more slowly in patients than in controls. Central fatigue only occurred in patients. The muscle-fiber conduction velocity was higher in patients. The initial MVC, decrease of MVC, initial force response, and initial central activation failure did not significantly differ between the groups. Although peripheral mechanisms cannot be excluded in the pathogenesis of residual fatigue after GBS, these results suggest that central changes are involved. This study thus provides further insight into the factors contributing to residual fatigue in GBS patients.

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Keywords Central activation failure, Guillain-Barré syndrome, Maximal voluntary contraction, Muscle-fiber conduction velocity, Peripheral fatique
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Garssen, M.P.J., Schillings, M.L., van Doorn, P.A., van Engelen, B.G.M., & Zwarts, M.J.. (2007). Contribution of central and peripheral factors to residual fatigue in Guillain-Barré syndrome. Muscle & Nerve, 36(1), 93–99. doi:10.1002/mus.20739