Loss of muscle oxidative capacity after an extreme endurance run: the Paris-Dakar foot-race

Int J Sports Med. 1995 Aug;16(6):343-6. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-973017.


We measured changes in maximal oxygen uptake capacity (VO2max), ventilation, heart rate, plasma lactate and speed at the end of an incremental exercise test as a consequence of a relay foot race from Paris to Dakar in 6 subjects. Additionally, anthropometric measurements were taken and muscle biopsies from M. vastus lateralis were obtained before and after the race. The latter were analyzed with morphometric methods for fiber size, capillarity and muscle ultrastructural composition. Weight specific VO2max was significantly reduced from 62.4 to 60.5 ml/min.kg after the race while absolute VO2max and the other endurance related functional variables remained unchanged. Body fat, thigh cross-sectional area and thigh volume showed tendential reduction immediately after the race but regained pre-race values within a few days. Fiber size and capillarity were not affected by the race. Volume density of total mitochondria was significantly reduced from 6.98 to 4.89% of fiber volume. Both subsarcolemmal and interfibrillar mitochondria were significantly reduced by 59 and 21%, respectively. The volume density of satellite cell was increased about three-fold whereas the content of lipofuscin remained constant. It is concluded that extreme endurance events such as a multi-stage relay race may induce a considerable loss of oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle tissue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Capillaries / ultrastructure
  • Exercise Test
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Lactates / blood
  • Lipofuscin / analysis
  • Male
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / ultrastructure
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / ultrastructure
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / ultrastructure
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Paris
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Respiration
  • Running / physiology*
  • Sarcolemma / ultrastructure
  • Senegal
  • Thigh / anatomy & histology


  • Lactates
  • Lipofuscin