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Circ Res. 1989 Jan;64(1):112-20.

Arteriolar control of capillary cell flow in striated muscle.

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  • 1Department of Biophysics, University of Rochester, School of Medicine, New York 14642.


This study tests the hypothesis that capillary perfusion is controlled in groups rather than at the level of the individual capillary. We measured cell flux (using cells labeled with substituted tetramethyl rhodamine isothiocyanate, XRITC) and vessel diameter in adjoining arterioles of the terminal vasculature of hamster cremaster muscle (Nembutal, 70 mg/kg i.p.) during rest and hyperemia (10(-4) M adenosine). In terminal arterioles (TAs), 32 of 68 vessels showed cell flux increases from rest to hyperemia exceeding 25 times (i.e., 47% of TAs were relatively unperfused at rest). In vessels feeding TAs (TAFs), 33 of 95 (34%) were relatively unperfused at rest. Cell flux heterogeneity in TAFs decreased significantly by 27% from rest to hyperemia; the corresponding decrease (16%) in TAs was not significant. Thus, unperfused TAFs are present in a proportion which reflects capillary recruitment in hamster cremaster (Sarelius et al, Am J Physiol 1981;241:H317) while TAs are not, and TAFs independently modulate flow distribution distally while TAs do not. The data therefore support the conclusion that TAFs control cell flow in the distal microvasculature. Analysis of normalized ranked maximal diameters showed that TAFs unperfused at rest tend to be the smaller vessels at any tissue site.

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