Oxidative capacity, blood flow, and capillarity of skeletal muscles

L. C. Maxwell, T. P. White, J. A. Faulkner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Our purpose was to test the hypothesis that the capillarity of mammalian skeletal muscles is correlated with the oxidative capacity of muscle fibers, or with the capacity for maximum blood flow. Capillarity of skeletal muscles from several species was determined using histochemical demonstration of phosphatase activity of capillary endothelium. Serial sections were incubated for succinate dehydrogenase activity as an indicator of muscle fiber oxidative capacity, and for myofibrillar ATPase activity. Three types of muscle fibers were identified. Fiber area was determined by planimetry of projected cross sections. Succinate oxidase activity of whole muscle homogenates was determined by differential respirometry. Muscle blood flow was determined experimentally or data were obtained from the literature. No consistent relation was observed for the different fiber types in the number of adjacent capillaries. Capillary density was negatively correlated with mean fiber area. Among adult animals of several species, skeletal muscles representing a 17-fold range of oxidative capacity demonstrated no relation between capillarity and oxidative capacity or muscle blood flow at maximum oxygen uptake. We find no support for relations between oxidative capacity or muscle blood flow and the capillarity of whole muscle or individual fibers and reject the hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)627-633
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology Respiratory Environmental and Exercise Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology


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