Fiber capillarization relative to mitochondrial volume in diaphragm of shrew

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2002 Jul;93(1):346-53. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00940.2001.


The objective was to examine fiber capillarization in relation to fiber mitochondrial volume in the highly aerobic diaphragm of the shrew, the smallest mammal. The diaphragms of four common shrews [Sorex araneus; body mass, 8.2 +/- 1.3 (SE) g] and four lesser shrews (Sorex minutus, 2.6 +/- 0.1 g) were perfusion fixed in situ, processed for electron microscopy, and analyzed by morphometry. Capillary length per fiber volume was extremely high, at values of 8,008 +/- 1,054 and 12,332 +/- 625 mm(-2) in S. araneus and S. minutus, respectively (P = 0.012), with no difference in capillary geometry between the two species. Fiber mitochondrial volume density was 28.5 +/- 2.3% (S. araneus) and 36.5 +/- 1.4% (S. minutus; P = 0.025), yielding capillary length per milliliter mitochondria values (S. araneus, 27.8 +/- 1.5 km; S. minutus, 33.9 +/- 2.2 km; P = 0.06) as high as in the flight muscle of the hummingbird and small bats. The size of the capillary-fiber interface (i.e., capillary surface per fiber surface ratio) per fiber mitochondrial volume in shrew diaphragm was also as high as in bird and bat flight muscles, and it was about two times greater than in rat hindlimb muscle. Thus, whereas fiber capillary and mitochondrial volume densities decreased with increased body mass in S. araneus compared with S. minutus Soricinae shrews, fiber capillarization per milliliter mitochondria in both species was much higher than previously reported for shrew diaphragm, and it matched that of the intensely aerobic flight muscles of birds and mammals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aerobiosis / physiology
  • Animals
  • Anisotropy
  • Basal Metabolism / physiology
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Capillaries / physiology
  • Capillaries / ultrastructure
  • Cell Count
  • Diaphragm / physiology
  • Diaphragm / ultrastructure
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / physiology
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / ultrastructure*
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / physiology
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / ultrastructure*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / ultrastructure*
  • Shrews / physiology*
  • Species Specificity
  • Tissue Fixation