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Respir Physiol. 1992 Jul;89(1):113-32.

Capillary-to-fiber geometry and mitochondrial density in hummingbird flight muscle.

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

Abstract

We investigated structural characteristics for high O2 flux in hummingbird flight muscle, i.e. the most O2 demanding skeletal muscle per unit tissue mass among vertebrates. Pectoralis and supracoracoideus muscles of 3-4 g hummingbirds (Selaphorus rufus) were perfusion fixed in situ, processed for electron microscopy and analyzed by morphometry. Small fiber size (group mean +/- SE, 201 +/- 14 microns 2 at 2.1 microns sarcomere length), large capillary length per fiber volume (8947 +/- 869 mm-2) and high mitochondrial volume density per volume of muscle fiber (34.5 +/- 0.9%) were characteristic features of the muscles. Considering capillary supply and mitochondrial volume on an individual fiber basis showed that the size of the capillary-to-fiber interface (i.e. capillary surface per fiber surface) was also high in the muscles. Comparison with mammalian hindlimb pointed to a major role of the size of the capillary-to-fiber interface in providing a great potential for O2 flux rate from capillary to muscle fiber mitochondria in hummingbird flight muscle.

PMID:
1518983
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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