Cellular PO2 as a determinant of maximal mitochondrial O(2) consumption in trained human skeletal muscle

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1999 Jul;87(1):325-31. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1999.87.1.325.


Previously, by measuring myoglobin-associated PO(2) (P(Mb)O(2)) during maximal exercise, we have demonstrated that 1) intracellular PO(2) is 10-fold less than calculated mean capillary PO(2) and 2) intracellular PO(2) and maximum O(2) uptake (VO(2 max)) fall proportionately in hypoxia. To further elucidate this relationship, five trained subjects performed maximum knee-extensor exercise under conditions of normoxia (21% O(2)), hypoxia (12% O(2)), and hyperoxia (100% O(2)) in balanced order. Quadriceps O(2) uptake (VO(2)) was calculated from arterial and venous blood O(2) concentrations and thermodilution blood flow measurements. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to determine myoglobin desaturation, and an O(2) half-saturation pressure of 3.2 Torr was used to calculate P(Mb)O(2) from saturation. Skeletal muscle VO(2 max) at 12, 21, and 100% O(2) was 0.86 +/- 0.1, 1.08 +/- 0.2, and 1.28 +/- 0.2 ml. min(-1). ml(-1), respectively. The 100% O(2) values approached twice that previously reported in human skeletal muscle. P(Mb)O(2) values were 2.3 +/- 0.5, 3.0 +/- 0.7, and 4.1 +/- 0.7 Torr while the subjects breathed 12, 21, and 100% O(2), respectively. From 12 to 21% O(2), VO(2) and P(Mb)O(2) were again proportionately related. However, 100% O(2) increased VO(2 max) relatively less than P(Mb)O(2), suggesting an approach to maximal mitochondrial capacity with 100% O(2). These data 1) again demonstrate very low cytoplasmic PO(2) at VO(2 max), 2) are consistent with supply limitation of VO(2 max) of trained skeletal muscle, even in hyperoxia, and 3) reveal a disproportionate increase in intracellular PO(2) in hyperoxia, which may be interpreted as evidence that, in trained skeletal muscle, very high mitochondrial metabolic limits to muscle VO(2) are being approached.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Humans
  • Hyperoxia / metabolism
  • Hypoxia / metabolism
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Myoglobin / metabolism
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Oxygen / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Oxyhemoglobins / metabolism


  • Myoglobin
  • Oxyhemoglobins
  • Oxygen