Determinants of skeletal muscle oxygen consumption assessed by near-infrared diffuse correlation spectroscopy during incremental handgrip exercise

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2019 Sep 1;127(3):698-706. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00273.2019. Epub 2019 Jul 18.


Near-infrared diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS) is a rapidly evolving optical imaging technique for the assessment of skeletal muscle O2 utilization (mVO2). We compared DCS-derived determinants of mVO2 with conventional measures [blood flow by brachial artery Doppler ultrasound and venous O2 saturation (SVO2)] in eight volunteers at rest and during incremental handgrip exercise. Brachial artery blood flow and DCS-derived blood flow index (BFI) were linearly related (R2 = 0.57) and increased with each workload, whereas SVO2 decreased from 65.3 ± 2.5% (rest) to 39.9 ± 3.0% (light exercise; P < 0.01) with no change thereafter. In contrast, DCS-derived tissue O2 saturation decreased progressively with each incremental stage (P < 0.01), driven almost entirely by an initial steep rise in deoxyhemoglobin/myoglobin, followed by a linear increase thereafter. Whereas seemingly disparate at first glance, we believe these two approaches provide similar information. Indeed, by plotting the mean convective O2 delivery and diffusive O2 conductance, we show that the initial increase in mVO2 during the transition from rest to exercise was achieved by a greater increase in diffusive O2 conductance versus convective O2 delivery (10-fold vs. 4-fold increase, respectively), explaining the initial decline in SVO2. In contrast, the increase in mVO2 from light to heavy exercise was achieved by equal increases (1.8-fold) in convective O2 delivery and diffusive O2 conductance, explaining the plateau in SVO2. That DCS-derived BFI and deoxyhemoglobin/myoglobin (surrogate measure of O2 extraction) share the same general biphasic pattern suggests that both DCS and conventional approaches provide complementary information regarding the determinants of mVO2.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Near-infrared diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS) is an emerging optical imaging technique for quantifying skeletal muscle O2 delivery and utilization at the microvascular level. Here, we show that DCS provides complementary insight into the determinants of muscle O2 consumption across a wide range of exercise intensities, further establishing the utility of DCS.

Keywords: Fick principle; blood flow; near-infrared spectroscopy; oxygen uptake.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diffusion
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Hand Strength
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared / methods*
  • Young Adult