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Dynamic Heterogeneity of Exercising Muscle Blood Flow and O2 Utilization


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2014 - Volume 46 - Issue 5 - p 860–876
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000178
Basic Sciences

ABSTRACT Resolving the bases for different physiological functioning or exercise performance within a population is dependent on our understanding of control mechanisms. For example, when most young healthy individuals run or cycle at moderate intensities, oxygen uptake (V˙O2) kinetics are rapid and the amplitude of the V˙O2 response is not constrained by O2 delivery. For this to occur, muscle O2 delivery (i.e., blood flow × arterial O2 concentration) must be coordinated superbly with muscle O2 requirements (V˙O2), the efficacy of which may differ among muscles and distinct fiber types. When the O2 transport system succumbs to the predations of aging or disease (emphysema, heart failure, and type 2 diabetes), muscle O2 delivery and O2 delivery–V˙O2 matching and, therefore, muscle contractile function become impaired. This forces greater influence of the upstream O2 transport pathway on muscle aerobic energy production, and the O2 delivery–V˙O2 relationship(s) assumes increased importance. This review is the first of its kind to bring a broad range of available techniques, mostly state of the art, including computer modeling, radiolabeled microspheres, positron emission tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, near-infrared spectroscopy, and phosphorescence quenching to resolve the O2 delivery–V˙O2 relationships and inherent heterogeneities at the whole body, interorgan, muscular, intramuscular, and microvascular/myocyte levels. Emphasis is placed on the following: 1) intact humans and animals as these provide the platform essential for framing and interpreting subsequent investigations, 2) contemporary findings using novel technological approaches to elucidate O2 delivery–V˙O2 heterogeneities in humans, and 3) future directions for investigating how normal physiological responses can be explained by O2 delivery–V˙O2 heterogeneities and the impact of aging/disease on these processes.

1Applied Physiology Laboratory, Kobe Design University, JAPAN; 2Division of Respiratory and Critical Care Physiology and Medicine, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor–UCLA Medical Center, and School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UNITED KINGDOM; 3Turku PET Centre and Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku and Turku University Hospital, Turku, FINLAND; Division of Experimental Cardiology, Thoraxcenter, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, THE NETHERLANDS; and 4Departments of Kinesiology and Anatomy and Physiology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

Address for correspondence: Shunsaku Koga, Ph.D., Applied Physiology Laboratory, Kobe Design University, 8-1-1 Gakuennishi-machi, Nishi-ku, Kobe, 651-2196, Japan; E-mail:

Submitted for publication December 2012.

Accepted for publication September 2013.

© 2014 American College of Sports Medicine