Adaptations in skeletal muscle capillarity following changes in oxygen supply and changes in oxygen demands

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1992;65(2):158-63. doi: 10.1007/BF00705074.


The effects of changes in oxygen supply and oxygen demands on fiber cross-sectional areas, capillary densities and capillary to fiber ratios were determined in three skeletal muscles of rat. The muscles examined were the vastus lateralis, soleus, and diaphragm. Reduced oxygen supply was produced by subjecting rats to ambient hypoxia, and increased oxygen demands were produced by subjecting rats to low ambient temperatures or treatment with thyroxin. Capillaries were visualized by injecting fluorescent dyes into the circulation. Muscles were quick frozen at resting lengths to preserve normal fiber geometry and were subsequently sectioned on a cryostat. All of the muscles sampled from animals in the experimental groups had elevated capillary densities. However, capillary to fiber ratios were not increased significantly in any muscle, for any experimental condition. Thus, all of the observed differences in capillarity were due to changes in the intrinsic rate of muscle fiber growth. Further, the relations of capillary density and capillary to fiber ratio to fiber area were the same as those obtained during normal maturation, suggesting that capillary growth is closely linked to the intrinsic rate of fiber growth.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Capillary Action / drug effects*
  • Cold Temperature
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Microcirculation / physiology
  • Muscles / blood supply*
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Oxygen / physiology*
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Thyroxine / pharmacology
  • Triiodothyronine / pharmacology


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Thyroxine
  • Oxygen