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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1996 Mar;80(3):988-98.

Muscle O2 uptake kinetics in humans: implications for metabolic control.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0623, USA.


Muscle O2 uptake (VO2) kinetics in response to an augmented energetic requirement (on-transition) has never been directly determined in humans. We have developed a constant-infusion thermodilution technique that allowed rapid measurements of leg blood flow (Qleg) and, in conjunction with frequent serial measurement of arteriovenous O2 content difference across the leg [(Ca - Cv)O2leg], permitted the determination of the VO2 of the leg (VO2leg) at 3- to 4-s time intervals. VO2leg kinetics during the on-transition was taken as a close approximation of muscle VO2 (VO2mus) kinetics. Alveolar VO2 (VO2A), Qleg, leg O2 delivery [(Q.CaO2leg)], (Ca - Cv)O2leg, and VO2leg kinetics were determined in six trained subjects [age 22.8 +/- 4.4 (SD) yr; maximal O2 uptake 59.1 +/- 5.3] during the transition from unloaded pedaling to a workload (loaded pedaling; LP) (183 +/- 20 W) well below the previously determined ventilatory threshold. For all variables, two distinct phases were recognized. During the first 10-15 s of loaded pedaling (phase I), VO2A, Qleg, and (Q.CaO2)leg increased rapidly, whereas VO2leg increased only slightly and (Ca - Cv)O2leg actually decreased. After phase I, all variables showed a monoexponential increase (phase II), with similar time courses [slightly faster for (Ca - CV)O2leg]. In a consideration of both phases, the half times of the responses among variables were not significantly different: 25.5 +/- 2.6 s for VO2A, 26.6 +/- 7.6 s for Qleg, 26.9 +/- 8.3 s for (Q.CaO2leg, 23.5 +/- 1.3 s for (Ca - Cv)O2leg, and 27.9 +/- 5.7 s for VO2leg. We conclude that during the on-transition the kinetics of VO2A and VO2leg, as measured by these methods, are similar. The analysis of the early phase (first 10-15 s) of the on-transition indicates that bulk delivery of O2 to the working muscles is not limiting VO2leg kinetics. However, the present results cannot discriminate between maldistribution of blood flow/VO2 vs. inertia the intracellular oxidative machinery as the limiting factor.

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