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Am J Physiol. 1995 May;268(5 Pt 1):E797-812.

Vascular and endocrine control of muscle metabolism.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia.


Important differences exist between perfused and incubated (or perifused) skeletal muscle preparations with regard to their metabolism and control. A growing body of evidence suggests that the differences may be due to the role played by the vascular system. In the constant-flow perfused rat hindlimb preparation, a group of vasoconstrictors has been identified that enhance muscle metabolism and aerobic contractility. Another group of vasoconstrictors decrease muscle metabolism and aerobic contractility even though perfusate flow remains constant. All effects of both groups of vasoconstrictors are opposed by vasodilators. Because none of the vasoconstrictor effects is evident when isolated muscles are incubated or perifused, involvement of an active vascular system is indicated. Although some hormones may act directly on muscle by purely endocrine effects, a vascular component of their actions is now emerging. Mechanisms to account for vascular control of perfused skeletal muscle metabolism may involve 1) functional vascular shunts where the proportion of flow processed by these is regulated by site-specific vasomodulators, 2) a direct response to a change in the rate of supply of nutrients and removal of products, and 3) a signal substance released by vascular tissue in association with vasoconstriction that interacts with surrounding skeletal muscle cells. Impaired control at the level of the vascular system may have implications for long-term access of nutrients and hormones and therefore the control of skeletal muscle metabolism and contractile performance.

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