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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1996 Aug;81(2):619-26.

Regional changes in capillary supply in skeletal muscle of high-intensity endurance-trained rats.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia 65211, USA.


The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that an endurance training program designed to produce recruitment of all extensor muscle fiber types during each exercise bout would stimulate capillary angiogenesis throughout rat gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were exercise trained 5 days/wk for 12-14 wk with exercise bouts consisting of a combination of high intensity (32 m/min on a 15% incline) and long duration (90 min/day). On completion of high-intensity endurance training (HIET) or cage activity [sedentary (Sed)], rat hindquarters were vascularly isolated and perfusion fixed with a modified Karnovsky's fixative. Capillary supply was measured in soleus and gastrocnemius muscles by using Olympus Cue 2 image-analyzer software. Capillary supply was reflected in measurements of capillary-to-fiber ratio, capillary numerical density, capillary surface area density, and capillary volume density on transversely cut tissue sections. HIET increased citrate synthase activity by 20 and 42% in the medial and long heads of the triceps brachii, respectively. Sarcomere lengths were similar in gastrocnemius and soleus muscles of Sed and HIET rats after fixation. All four indexes of capillary supply were significantly greater throughout the gastrocnemius muscle of HIET rats compared with Sed values. The relative increase in capillarity was greater in white than in red gastrocnemius muscle of HIET rats. HIET also increased capillary supply of soleus muscle. However, only capillary numerical density was statistically greater (19%) in HIET soleus compared with Sed. These results support the hypothesis that this training program would produce an increase in capillary supply in all extensor muscles.

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