Honorary session at ECSS Barcelona 2013


Research on Elite Athletes: To Understand and to Develop · Bengt Saltin lecture
May 2012
Seminar at Mid Sweden University, Swedish Winter Sport and Research Center. Speaker Bengt Saltin from Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre


The Biomedical Basis of Elite Performance · Bengt Saltin lecture
March 2012


As one of the most physically demanding sports in the Olympic Games, cross-country skiing poses considerable challenges with respect to both force generation and endurance during the combined upper- and lower-body effort of varying intensity and duration. The isoforms of myosin in skeletal muscle have long been considered not only to define the contractile properties, but also to determine metabolic capacities. The current investigation was designed to explore the relationship between these isoforms and metabolic profiles in the arms (triceps brachii) and legs (vastus lateralis) as well as the range of training responses in the muscle fibers of elite cross-country skiers with equally and exceptionally well-trained upper and lower bodies. The proportion of myosin heavy chain (MHC)-1 was higher in the leg (58 ± 2% [34–69%]) than arm (40 ± 3% [24–57%]), although the mitochondrial volume percentages [8.6 ± 1.6 (leg) and 9.0 ± 2.0 (arm)], and average number of capillaries per fiber [5.8 ± 0.8 (leg) and 6.3 ± 0.3 (arm)] were the same. In these comparable highly trained leg and arm muscles, the maximal citrate synthase (CS) activity was the same. Still, 3-hydroxy-acyl-CoA-dehydrogenase (HAD) capacity was 52% higher (P < 0.05) in the leg compared to arm muscles, suggesting a relatively higher capacity for lipid oxidation in leg muscle, which cannot be explained by the different fiber type distributions. For both limbs combined, HAD activity was correlated with the content of MHC-1 (r2 = 0.32, P = 0.011), whereas CS activity was not. Thus, in these highly trained cross-country skiers capillarization of and mitochondrial volume in type 2 fiber can be at least as high as in type 1 fibers, indicating a divergence between fiber type pattern and aerobic metabolic capacity. The considerable variability in oxidative metabolism with similar MHC profiles provides a new perspective on exercise training. Furthermore, the clear differences between equally well-trained arm and leg muscles regarding HAD activity cannot be explained by training status or MHC distribution, thereby indicating an intrinsic metabolic difference between the upper and lower body. Moreover, trained type 1 and type 2A muscle fibers exhibited similar aerobic capacity regardless of whether they were located in an arm or leg muscle.
Key points: Although lipid droplets in skeletal muscle are an important energy source during endurance exercise, our understanding of lipid metabolism in this context remains incomplete. Using transmission electron microscopy, two distinct subcellular pools of lipid droplets can be observed in skeletal muscle - one beneath the sarcolemma and the other between myofibrils. At rest, well-trained leg muscles of cross-country skiers contain 4- to 6-fold more lipid droplets than equally well-trained arm muscles, with a 3-fold higher content in type 1 than in type 2 fibres. During exhaustive exercise, lipid droplets between the myofibrils but not those beneath the sarcolemma are utilised by both type 1 and 2 fibres. These findings provide insight into compartmentalisation of lipid metabolism within skeletal muscle fibres. Abstract: Although the intramyocellular lipid pool is an important energy store during prolonged exercise, our knowledge concerning its metabolism is still incomplete. Here, quantitative electron microscopy was used to examine subcellular distribution of lipid droplets in type 1 and 2 fibres of the arm and leg muscles before and after 1 h of exhaustive exercise. Intermyofibrillar lipid droplets accounted for 85-97% of the total volume fraction, while the subsarcolemmal pool made up 3-15%. Before exercise, the volume fractions of intermyofibrillar and subsarcolemmal lipid droplets were 4- to 6-fold higher in leg than in arm muscles (P < 0.001). Furthermore, the volume fraction of intermyofibrillar lipid droplets was 3-fold higher in type 1 than in type 2 fibres (P < 0.001), with no fibre type difference in the subsarcolemmal pool. Following exercise, intermyofibrillar lipid droplet volume fraction was 53% lower (P = 0.0082) in both fibre types in arm, but not leg muscles. This reduction was positively associated with the corresponding volume fraction prior to exercise (R2 = 0.84, P < 0.0001). No exercise-induced change in the subsarcolemmal pool could be detected. These findings indicate clear differences in the subcellular distribution of lipid droplets in the type 1 and 2 fibres of well-trained arm and leg muscles, as well as preferential utilisation of the intermyofibrillar pool during prolonged exhaustive exercise. Apparently, the metabolism of lipid droplets within a muscle fibre is compartmentalised.
Purpose: Animal studies suggest that the inhibition of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) affects blood flow differently in different skeletal muscles according to their muscle fibre type composition (oxidative vs glycolytic). Quadriceps femoris (QF) muscle consists of four different muscle parts: vastus intermedius (VI), rectus femoris (RF), vastus medialis (VM), and vastus lateralis (VL) of which VI is located deep within the muscle group and is generally regarded to consist mostly of oxidative muscle fibres. Methods: We studied the effect of NOS inhibition on blood flow in these four different muscles by positron emission tomography in eight young healthy men at rest and during one-leg dynamic exercise, with and without combined blockade with prostaglandins. Results: At rest blood flow in the VI (2.6 ± 1.1 ml/100 g/min) was significantly higher than in VL (1.9 ± 0.6 ml/100 g/min, p = 0.015) and RF (1.7 ± 0.6 ml/100 g/min, p = 0.0015), but comparable to VM (2.4 ± 1.1 ml/100 g/min). NOS inhibition alone or with prostaglandins reduced blood flow by almost 50% (p < 0.001), but decrements were similar in all four muscles (drug × muscle interaction, p = 0.43). During exercise blood flow was also the highest in VI (45.4 ± 5.5 ml/100 g/min) and higher compared to VL (35.0 ± 5.5 ml/100 g/min), RF (38.4 ± 7.4 ml/100 g/min), and VM (36.2 ± 6.8 ml/100 g/min). NOS inhibition alone did not reduce exercise hyperemia (p = 0.51), but combined NOS and prostaglandin inhibition reduced blood flow during exercise (p = 0.002), similarly in all muscles (drug × muscle interaction, p = 0.99). Conclusion: NOS inhibition, with or without prostaglandins inhibition, affects blood flow similarly in different human QF muscles both at rest and during low-to-moderate intensity exercise.
The hypothesis that the adaptive capacity is higher in human upper- than lower-body skeletal muscle was tested. Furthermore, the hypothesis that more pronounced adaptations in upper-body musculature can be achieved by 'low-volume high-intensity' as compared to 'high-volume low-intensity' exercise training was evaluated. A group of sedentary premenopausal women aged 45±6 years (±SD) with expected high adaptive potential in both upper- and lower-extremity muscle groups participated. After random allocation to high-intensity swimming (HIS, n=21), moderate-intensity swimming (MOS, n=21), soccer (SOC, n=21) or a non-training control group (CON, n=20), the training groups completed three workouts per week for 15 weeks. Resting muscle biopsies were obtained from m. vastus lateralis and m. deltoideus before and after the intervention. After the training intervention, a larger (P<0.05) increase existed in m. deltoideus of the HIS group compared to m. vastus lateralis of the SOC group for citrate synthase maximal activity (95±89 vs. 27±34%), citrate synthase protein expression (100±29 vs. 31±44%), 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase maximal activity (35±43 vs. 3±25%), muscle glycogen content (63±76 vs. 20±51%) and expression of mitochondrial complex II, III and IV. Additionally, HIS caused higher (P<0.05) increases than MOS in m. deltoideus citrate synthase maximal activity, citrate synthase protein expression, and muscle glycogen content. In conclusion, m. deltoideus has a higher adaptive potential than m. vastus lateralis in sedentary women, and 'high-intensity low-volume' training is a more efficient regime than 'low-intensity high-volume' training for increasing the aerobic capacity of m. deltoideus. Copyright © 2015, Journal of Applied Physiology.
This study compares the levels of algesic substances between subjects with trapezius myalgia (TM) and healthy controls (CON) and explores the multivariate correlation pattern between these substances, pain, and metabolic status together with relative blood flow changes reported in our previous paper (Eur J Appl Physiol 108:657–669, 2010). 43 female workers with (TM) and 19 females without (CON) trapezius myalgia were – using microdialysis - compared for differences in interstitial concentrations of interleukin-6 (IL-6), bradykinin (BKN), serotonin (5-HT), lactate dehydrogenas (LDH), substance P, and N-terminal propeptide of procollagen type I (PINP) in the trapezius muscle at rest and during repetitive/stressful work. These data were also used in multivariate analyses together with previously presented data (Eur J Appl Physiol 108:657–669, 2010): trapezius muscle blood flow, metabolite accumulation, oxygenation, and pain development and sensitivity. Substance P was significantly elevated in TM (p=0.0068). No significant differences were found in the classical algesic substances (p: 0.432-0.926). The multivariate analysis showed that blood flow related variables, interstitial concentrations of metabolic (pyruvate), and algesic (BKN and K+) substances were important for the discrimination of the subjects to one of the two groups (R2: 0.19-0.31, p<0.05). Pain intensity was positively associated with levels of 5-HT and K+ and negatively associated with oxygenation indicators and IL-6 in TM (R2: 0.24, p<0.05). A negative correlation existed in TM between mechanical pain sensitivity of trapezius and BKN and IL-6 (R2: 0.26-0.39, p<0.05). The present study increased understanding alterations in the myalgic muscle. When considering the system-wide aspects, increased concentrations of lactate, pyruvate and K+ and decreased oxygenation characterized TM compared to CON. There are three major possible explanations for this finding: the workers with pain had relatively low severity of myalgia, metabolic alterations preceded detectable alterations in levels of algesics, or peripheral sensitization and other muscle alterations existed in TM. Only SP of the investigated algesic substances was elevated in TM. Several of the algesics were of importance for the levels of pain intensity and mechanical pain sensitivity in TM. These results indicate peripheral contribution to maintenance of central nociceptive and pain mechanisms and may be important to consider when designing treatments.
In humans, skeletal muscle blood flow is regulated by an interaction between several locally formed vasodilators including nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandins. In plasma, ATP is a potent vasodilator that stimulates the formation of NO and prostaglandins and very importantly can offset local sympathetic vasoconstriction. ATP is released into plasma from erythrocytes and endothelial cells and the plasma concentration increases in both the feeding artery and the vein draining the contracting skeletal muscle. Adenosine also stimulates the formation of NO and prostaglandins, but the plasma adenosine concentration does not increase during exercise. In the skeletal muscle interstitium, there is a marked increase in the concentration of ATP and adenosine and this increase is tightly coupled to the increase in blood flow. The sources of interstitial ATP and adenosine are thought to be skeletal muscle cells and endothelial cells. In the interstitium, both ATP and adenosine stimulate the formation of NO and prostaglandins, but ATP has also been suggested to induce vasoconstriction and stimulate afferent nerves that signal to increase sympathetic nerve activity. Adenosine has been shown to contribute to exercise hyperaemia whereas the role of ATP remains uncertain due to lack of specific purinergic receptor blockers for human use. The purpose of this review is to address the interaction between vasodilator systems and to discuss the multiple proposed roles of ATP in human skeletal muscle blood flow regulation.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Aims: To determine the role played by adenosine, ATP and chemoreflex activation on the regulation of vascular conductance in chronic hypoxia. Methods: The vascular conductance response to low and high doses of adenosine and ATP was assessed in ten healthy men. Vasodilators were infused into the femoral artery at sea level and then after 8-12 days of residence at 4559 m above sea level. At sea level, the infusions were carried out while the subjects breathed room air, acute hypoxia (FI O2 = 0.11) and hyperoxia (FI O2 = 1); and at altitude (FI O2 = 0.21 and 1). Skeletal muscle P2Y2 receptor protein expression was determined in muscle biopsies after 4 weeks at 3454 m by Western blot. Results: At altitude, mean arterial blood pressure was 13% higher (91 ± 2 vs. 102 ± 3 mmHg, P < 0.05) than at sea level and was unaltered by hyperoxic breathing. Baseline leg vascular conductance was 25% lower at altitude than at sea level (P < 0.05). At altitude, the high doses of adenosine and ATP reduced mean arterial blood pressure by 9-12%, independently of FI O2 . The change in vascular conductance in response to ATP was lower at altitude than at sea level by 24 and 38%, during the low and high ATP doses respectively (P < 0.05), and by 22% during the infusion with high adenosine doses. Hyperoxic breathing did not modify the response to vasodilators at sea level or at altitude. P2Y2 receptor expression remained unchanged with altitude residence. Conclusions: Short-term residence at altitude increases arterial blood pressure and reduces the vasodilatory responses to adenosine and ATP.
Abstract The aim was to investigate performance variables and indicators of cardiovascular health profile in elderly soccer players (SP, n = 11) compared to endurance-trained (ET, n = 8), strength-trained (ST, n = 7) and untrained (UT, n = 7) age-matched men. The 33 men aged 65-85 years underwent a testing protocol including measurements of cycle performance, maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) and body composition, and muscle fibre types and capillarisation were determined from m. vastus lateralis biopsy. In SP, time to exhaustion was longer (16.3 ± 2.0 min; P < 0.01) than in UT (+48%) and ST (+41%), but similar to ET (+1%). Fat percentage was lower (P < 0.05) in SP (-6.5% points) than UT but not ET and ST. Heart rate reserve was higher (P < 0.05) in SP (104 ± 16 bpm) than UT (+21 bpm) and ST (+24 bpm), but similar to ET (+2 bpm), whereas VO2max was not significantly different in SP (30.2 ± 4.9 ml O2 · min(-1) · kg(-1)) compared to UT (+14%) and ST (+9%), but lower (P < 0.05) than ET (-22%). The number of capillaries per fibre was higher (P < 0.05) in SP than UT (53%) and ST (42%) but similar to ET. SP had less type IIx fibres than UT (-12% points). In conclusion, the exercise performance and cardiovascular health profile are markedly better for lifelong trained SP than for age-matched UT controls. Incremental exercise capacity and muscle aerobic capacity of SP are also superior to lifelong ST athletes and comparable to endurance athletes.
Essential hypertension is linked to an increased sympathetic vasoconstrictor activity and reduced tissue perfusion. We investigated the role of exercise training on functional sympatholysis and postjunctional α-adrenergic responsiveness in individuals with essential hypertension. Leg haemodynamics were measured before and after 8 weeks of aerobic training (3–4 times/week) in 8 hypertensive (47 ± 2 years) and 8 normotensive untrained individuals (46 ± 1 years) during arterial tyramine infusion, arterial ATP infusion and/or one-legged knee extensions. Before training, exercise hypaeremia and leg vascular conductance (LVC) were lower in the hypertensive individuals (P < 0.05) and tyramine lowered exercise hypaeremia and VC in both groups (P < 0.05). Training lowered blood pressure in the hypertensive individuals (P < 0.05) and exercise hypaeremia was similar to the normotensive individuals in the trained state. After training, tyramine did not reduce exercise hyperaemia or LVC in either group. When tyramine was infused at rest, the reduction in blood flow and LVC was similar between groups, but exercise training lowered the magnitude of the reduction in blood flow and LVC (P < 0.05). There was no difference in the vasodilatory response to infused ATP or in muscle P2Y2 receptor content between the groups before and after training. However, training lowered the vasodilatory response to ATP and increased skeletal muscle P2Y2 receptor content in both groups (P < 0.05). These results demonstrate that exercise training improves functional sympatholysis and reduces postjunctional α-adrenergic responsiveness in both normo- and hypertensive individuals. The ability for functional sympatholysis and the vasodilator and sympatholytic effect of intravascular ATP appears not to be altered in essential hypertension.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Aim: This study investigates consequences of chronic neck pain on muscle function and the rehabilitating effects of contrasting interventions. Methods: Women with trapezius myalgia (MYA, n = 42) and healthy controls (CON, n = 20) participated in a case-control study. Subsequently MYA were randomized to 10 weeks of specific strength training (SST, n = 18), general fitness training (GFT, n = 16), or a reference group without physical training (REF, n = 8). Participants performed tests of 100 consecutive cycles of 2 s isometric maximal voluntary contractions (MVC) of shoulder elevation followed by 2 s relaxation at baseline and 10-week follow-up. Results: In the case-control study, peak force, rate of force development, and rate of force relaxation as well as EMG amplitude were lower in MYA than CON throughout all 100 MVC. Muscle fiber capillarization was not significantly different between MYA and CON. In the intervention study, SST improved all force parameters significantly more than the two other groups, to levels comparable to that of CON. This was seen along with muscle fiber hypertrophy and increased capillarization. Conclusion: Women with trapezius myalgia have lower strength capacity during repetitive MVC of the trapezius muscle than healthy controls. High-intensity strength training effectively improves strength capacity during repetitive MVC of the painful trapezius muscle.
It is an ongoing discussion the extent to which oxygen delivery and oxygen extraction contribute to an increased muscle oxygen uptake during dynamic exercise. It has been proposed that local muscle factors including the capillary bed and mitochondrial oxidative capacity play a large role in prolonged low-intensity training of a small muscle group when the cardiac output capacity is not directly limiting. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relative roles of circulatory and muscle metabolic mechanisms by which prolonged low-intensity exercise training alters regional muscle VO2.
To provide a large reference material on aerobic fitness and exercise physiology data in a healthy population of Norwegian men and women aged 20-90 years. Maximal and sub maximal levels of VO2, heart rate, oxygen pulse, and rating of perceived exertion (Borg scale: 6-20) were measured in 1929 men and 1881 women during treadmill running. The highest VO2max and maximal heart rate among men and women were observed in the youngest age group (20-29 years) and was 54.4±8.4 mL·kg(-1)·min(-1) and 43.0±7.7 mL·kg(-1)·min(-1) (sex differences, p<0.001) and 196±10 beats·min(-1) and 194±9 beats·min(-1) (sex differences, p<0.05), respectively, with a subsequent reduction of approximately 3.5 mL·kg(-1)·min(-1) and 6 beats·min(-1) per decade. The highest oxygen pulses were observed in the 3 youngest age groups (20-29 years, 30-39 years, 40-49 years) among men and women; 22.3 mL·beat(-1)±3.6 and 14.7 mL·beat(-1)±2.7 (sex differences, p<0.001), respectively, with no significant difference between these age groups. After the age of 50 we observed an 8% reduction per decade among both sexes. Borg scores appear to give a good estimate of the relative exercise intensity, although observing a slightly different relationship than reported in previous reference material from small populations. This is the largest European reference material of objectively measured parameters of aerobic fitness and exercise-physiology in healthy men and women aged 20-90 years, forming the basis for an easily accessible, valid and understandable tool for improved training prescription in healthy men and women.
The effects on left and right ventricular (LV, RV) volumes during physical exercise remains controversial. Furthermore, no previous study has investigated the effects of exercise on longitudinal contribution to stroke volume (SV) and the outer volume variation of the heart. The aim of this study was to determine if LV, RV and total heart volumes (THV) as well as cardiac pumping mechanisms change during physical exercise compared to rest using cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR). 26 healthy volunteers (6 women) underwent CMR at rest and exercise. Exercise was performed using a custom built ergometer for one-legged exercise in the supine position during breath hold imaging. Cardiac volumes and atrio-ventricular plane displacement were determined. Heart rate (HR) was obtained from ECG. HR increased during exercise from 60+/-2 to 94+/-2 bpm, (p<0.001). LVEDV remained unchanged (p=0.81) and LVESV decreased with -9+/-18% (p<0.05) causing LVSV to increase with 8+/-3% (p<0.05). RVEDV and RVESV decreased by -7+/-10% and -24+/-14% respectively, (p<0.001) and RVSV increased 5+/-17% during exercise although not statistically significant (p=0.18). Longitudinal contribution to RVSV decreased during exercise by -6+/-15% (p<0.05) but was unchanged for LVSV (p=0.74).THV decreased during exercise by -4+/-1%, (p<0.01) and total heart volume variation (THVV) increased during exercise from 5.9+/-0.5% to 9.7+/-0.6% (p<0.001). Cardiac volumes and function are significantly altered during supine physical exercise. THV becomes significantly smaller due to decreases in RVEDV whilst LVEDV remains unchanged. THVV and consequently radial pumping increases during exercise which may improve diastolic suction during the rapid filling phase.
Background The role of nitric oxide in controlling substrate metabolism in humans is incompletely understood. Methods The present study examined the effect of nitric oxide blockade on glucose uptake, and free fatty acid and lactate exchange in skeletal muscle of eight healthy young males. Exchange was determined by measurements of muscle perfusion by positron emission tomography and analysis of arterial and femoral venous plasma concentrations of glucose, fatty acids and lactate. The measurements were performed at rest and during exercise without (control) and with blockade of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) with NG-monomethyl-l-arginine (L-NMMA). Results Glucose uptake at rest was 0.40 ± 0.21 μmol/100 g/min and increased to 3.71 ± 2.53 μmol/100 g/min by acute one leg low intensity exercise (p < 0.01). Prior inhibition of NOS by L-NMMA did not affect glucose uptake, at rest or during exercise (0.40 ± 0.26 and 4.74 ± 2.69 μmol/100 g/min, respectively). In the control trial, there was a small release of free fatty acids from the limb at rest (−0.05 ± 0.09 μmol/100 g/min), whereas during inhibition of NOS, there was a small uptake of fatty acids (0.04 ± 0.05 μmol/100 g/min, p < 0.05). During exercise fatty acid uptake was increased to (0.89 ± 1.07 μmol/100 g/min), and there was a non-significant trend (p = 0.10) for an increased FFA uptake with NOS inhibition 1.23 ± 1.48 μmol/100 g/min) compared to the control condition. Arterial concentrations of all substrates and exchange of lactate over the limb at rest and during exercise remained unaltered during the two conditions. Conclusion In conclusion, inhibition of nitric oxide synthesis does not alter muscle glucose uptake during low intensity exercise, but affects free fatty acid exchange especially at rest, and may thus be involved in the modulation of energy metabolism in the human skeletal muscle.
The aim was to assess mRNA and/or protein levels of heat shock proteins, cytokines, growth regulating, and metabolic proteins in myalgic muscle at rest and in response to work tasks and prolonged exercise training. A randomized controlled trial included 28 females with trapezius myalgia and 16 healthy controls. Those with myalgia performed ~7 hrs repetitive stressful work and were subsequently randomized to 10 weeks of specific strength training, general fitness training, or reference intervention. Muscles biopsies were taken from the trapezius muscle at baseline, after work and after 10 weeks intervention. The main findings are that the capacity of carbohydrate oxidation was reduced in myalgic compared with healthy muscle. Repetitive stressful work increased mRNA content for heat shock proteins and decreased levels of key regulators for growth and oxidative metabolism. In contrast, prolonged general fitness as well as specific strength training decreased mRNA content of heat shock protein while the capacity of carbohydrate oxidation was increased only after specific strength training.
Endurance training lowers heart rate and blood pressure responses to exercise, but the mechanisms and consequences remain unclear. To determine the role of skeletal muscle for the cardioventilatory response to exercise, 8 healthy young men were studied before and after 5 weeks of 1-legged knee-extensor training and 2 weeks of deconditioning of the other leg (leg cast). Hemodynamics and muscle interstitial nucleotides were determined during exercise with the (1) deconditioned leg, (2) trained leg, and (3) trained leg with atrial pacing to the heart rate obtained with the deconditioned leg. Heart rate was ≈15 bpm lower during exercise with the trained leg (P<0.05), but stroke volume was higher (P<0.05) and cardiac output was similar. Arterial and central venous pressures, rate-pressure product, and ventilation were lower during exercise with the trained leg (P<0.05), whereas pulmonary capillary wedge pressure was similar. When heart rate was controlled by atrial pacing, stroke volume decreased (P<0.05), but cardiac output, peripheral blood flow, arterial pressures, and pulmonary capillary wedge pressure remained unchanged. Circulating [norepinephrine], [lactate] and [K+] were lower and interstitial [ATP] and pH were higher in the trained leg (P<0.05). The lower cardioventilatory response to exercise with the trained leg is partly coupled to a reduced signaling from skeletal muscle likely mediated by K+, lactate, or pH, whereas the lower cardiac afterload increases stroke volume. These results demonstrate that skeletal muscle training reduces the cardioventilatory response to exercise without compromising O2 delivery, and it can therefore be used to reduce the load on the heart during physical activity.
Given recent technological developments, ultrasound Doppler can provide valuable measurements of blood velocity/flow in the conduit artery with high temporal resolution. In human-applied science such as exercise physiology, hemodynamic measurements in the conduit artery is commonly performed by blood flow feeding the exercising muscle, as the increase in oxygen uptake (calculated as a product of arterial blood flow to the exercising limb and the arterio-venous oxygen difference) is directly proportional to the work performed. The increased oxygen demand with physical activity is met through a central mechanism, an increase in cardiac output and blood pressure, as well as a peripheral mechanism, an increase in vascular conductance and oxygen extraction (a major part of the whole exercising muscles) from the blood. The increase in exercising muscle blood flow in relation to the target workload (quantitative response) may be one indicator in circulatory adjustment for the activity of muscle metabolism. Therefore, the determination of local blood flow dynamics (potential oxygen supply) feeding repeated (rhythmic) muscle contractions can contribute to the understanding of the factors limiting work capacity including, for instance, muscle metabolism, substance utilization and magnitude of vasodilatation in the exercising muscle. Using non-invasive measures of pulsed Doppler ultrasound, the validity of blood velocity/flow in the forearm or lower limb conduit artery feeding to the muscle has been previously demonstrated during rhythmic muscle exercise. For the evaluation of exercising blood flow, not only muscle contraction induced internal physiological variability, or fluctuations in the magnitude of blood velocity due to spontaneous muscle contraction and relaxation induced changes in force curve intensity, superimposed in cardiac beat-by-beat, but also the alterations in the blood velocity (external variability) due to a temporary sudden change in the achieved workload, compared to the target workload, should be considered. Furthermore, a small amount of inconsistency in the voluntary muscle contraction force at each kick seems to be unavoidable, and may influence exercising muscle blood flow, although subjects attempt to perform precisely similar repeated voluntary muscle contractions at target workload (muscle contraction force). This review presents the methodological considerations for the variability of exercising blood velocity/flow in the limb conduit artery during dynamic leg exercise assessed by pulsed Doppler ultrasound in relation to data previously reported in original research.
Muscle mitochondrial respiratory capacity measured ex vivo provides a physiological reference to assess cellular oxidative capacity as a component in the oxygen cascade in vivo. In this article, the magnitude of muscle blood flow and oxygen uptake during exercise involving a small-to-large fraction of the body mass will be discussed in relation to mitochondrial capacity measured ex vivo. These analyses reveal that as the mass of muscle engaged in exercise increases from one-leg knee extension, to 2-arm cranking, to 2-leg cycling and x-country skiing, the magnitude of blood flow and oxygen delivery decrease. Accordingly, a 2-fold higher oxygen delivery and oxygen uptake per unit muscle mass are seen in vivo during 1-leg exercise compared to 2-leg cycling indicating a significant limitation of the circulation during exercise with a large muscle mass. This analysis also reveals that mitochondrial capacity measured ex vivo underestimates the maximal in vivo oxygen uptake of muscle by up to ∼2-fold. This article is part of a Directed Issue entitled: Bioenergetic dysfunction, adaptation and therapy.
Contracting skeletal muscle can overcome sympathetic vasoconstrictor activity (functional sympatholysis), which allows for a blood supply that matches the metabolic demand. This ability is thought to be mediated by locally released substances that modulate the effect of noradrenaline (NA) on the α-receptor. Tyramine induces local NA release and can be used in humans to investigate the underlying mechanisms and physiological importance of functional sympatholysis in the muscles of healthy and diseased individuals as well as the impact of the active muscles' training status. In sedentary elderly men, functional sympatholysis and muscle blood flow are impaired compared to young men, but regular physical activity can prevent these age related impairments. In young subjects, two weeks of leg immobilization causes a reduced ability for functional sympatholysis, whereas the trained leg maintained this function. Patients with essential hypertension have impaired functional sympatholysis in the forearm, and reduced exercise hyperaemia in the leg, but this can be normalized by aerobic exercise training. The effect of physical activity on the local mechanisms that modulate sympathetic vasoconstriction is clear, but it remains uncertain which locally released substance(s) block the effect of NA and how this is accomplished. NO and ATP have been proposed as important inhibitors of NA mediated vasoconstriction and presently an inhibitory effect of ATP on NA signaling via P2 receptors appears most likely.
Ageing is associated with an impaired ability to modulate sympathetic vasoconstrictor activity (functional sympatholysis) and a reduced exercise hypaeremia. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether a physically active lifestyle can offset the impaired functional sympatholysis and exercise hyperaemia in the leg and whether ATP signaling is altered by ageing and physical activity. Leg haemodynamics, intersitial [ATP] and P2Y2 receptor content was determined in eight young (23±1 years), eight lifelong sedentary elderly (66±2 years) and eight lifelong active elderly (62±2 years) men at rest and during one-legged knee-extensions (12 W and 45% maximal workload (WLmax)) and arterial infusion of ACh and ATP with and without tyramine. The vasodilatory response to ACh was lowest in the sedentary elderly, higher in active elderly (P<0.05) and highest in the young men(P<0.05), whereas ATP induced vasodilation was lower in the sedentary elderly (P<0.05). During exercise (12 W), leg blood flow, vascular conductance and VO2 was lower and leg lactate release higher in the sedentary elderly compared to the young (P<0.05), whereas there was no difference between the active elderly and young. Interstitial [ATP] during exercise and P2Y2 receptor content were higher in the active elderly compared to the sedentary elderly (P<0.05). Tyramine infusion lowered resting vascular conductance in all groups, but only in the sedentary elderly during exercise (P<0.05). Tyramine did not alter the vasodilator response to ATP infusion in any of the three groups. Plasma [noradrenaline] increased more during tyramine infusion in both elderly groups compared to young (P<0.05). A lifelong physical active lifestyle can maintain an intact functional sympatholysis during exercise and vasodilator response to ATP despite a reduction in endothelial nitriic oxide function. A physical active lifestyle increases interstitial ATP levels and skeletal muscle P2Y2 receptor content.
Nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandins (PG) together play a role in regulating blood flow during exercise. NO also regulates mitochondrial oxygen consumption through competitive binding to cytochrome-c oxidase. Indomethacin uncouples and inhibits the electron transport chain in a concentration-dependent manner, and thus, inhibition of NO and PG synthesis may regulate both muscle oxygen delivery and utilization. The purpose of this study was to examine the independent and combined effects of NO and PG synthesis blockade (L-NMMA and indomethacin, respectively) on mitochondrial respiration in human muscle following knee extension exercise (KEE). Specifically, this study examined the physiological effect of NO, and the pharmacological effect of indomethacin, on muscle mitochondrial function. Consistent with their mechanism of action, we hypothesized that inhibition of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and PG synthesis would have opposite effects on muscle mitochondrial respiration. Mitochondrial respiration was measured ex vivo by high-resolution respirometry in saponin-permeabilized fibers following 6 min KEE in control (CON; n = 8), arterial infusion of N(G)-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA; n = 4) and Indo (n = 4) followed by combined inhibition of NOS and PG synthesis (L-NMMA + Indo, n = 8). ADP-stimulated state 3 respiration (OXPHOS) with substrates for complex I (glutamate, malate) was reduced 50% by Indo. State 3 O(2) flux with complex I and II substrates was reduced less with both Indo (20%) and L-NMMA + Indo (15%) compared with CON. The results indicate that indomethacin reduces state 3 mitochondrial respiration primarily at complex I of the respiratory chain, while blockade of NOS by L-NMMA counteracts the inhibition by Indo. This effect on muscle mitochondria, in concert with a reduction of blood flow accounts for in vivo changes in muscle O(2) consumption during combined blockade of NOS and PG synthesis.
To evaluate the effect of regular physical activity on metabolic risk factors and blood pressure in Inuit with high BMI consuming a western diet (high amount of saturated fatty acids and carbohydrates with a high glycemic index). Cross sectional study, comparing Inuit eating a western diet with Inuit eating a traditional diet. Two physically active Greenland Inuit groups consuming different diet, 20 eating a traditional diet (Qaanaaq) and 15 eating a western diet (TAB), age (mean (range)); 38, (22-58) yrs, BMI; 28 (20-40) were subjected to an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), blood sampling, maximal oxygen uptake test, food interview/collection and monitoring of physical activity. All Inuit had a normal OGTT. Fasting glucose (mmol/l), HbA1c (%), total cholesterol (mmol/l) and HDL-C (mmol/l) were for Qaanaaq women: 4.8±0.2, 5.3±0.1, 4.96±0.42, 1.34±0.06, for Qaanaaq men: 4.9±0.1, 5.7±0.1, 5.08±0.31, 1.28±0.09, for TAB women: 5.1±0.2, 5.3±0.1, 6.22±0.39, 1.86±0.13, for TAB men: 5.1±0.2, 5.3±0.1, 6.23±0.15, 1.60±0.10. No differences were found in systolic or diastolic blood pressure between the groups. There was a more adverse distribution of small dense LDL-C particles and higher total cholesterol and HDL-C concentration in the western diet group. Diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance was not found in the Inuit consuming either the western or the traditional diet, and this could, at least partly, be due to the high amount of regular daily physical activity. However, when considering the total cardio vascular risk profile the Inuit consuming a western diet had a less healthy profile than the Inuit consuming a traditional diet.
To elucidate the molecular mechanisms behind physical inactivity-induced insulin resistance in skeletal muscle, 12 young, healthy male subjects completed 7 days of bed rest with vastus lateralis muscle biopsies obtained before and after. In six of the subjects, muscle biopsies were taken from both legs before and after a 3-h hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp performed 3 h after a 45-min, one-legged exercise. Blood samples were obtained from one femoral artery and both femoral veins before and during the clamp. Glucose infusion rate and leg glucose extraction during the clamp were lower after than before bed rest. This bed rest-induced insulin resistance occurred together with reduced muscle GLUT4, hexokinase II, protein kinase B/Akt1, and Akt2 protein level, and a tendency for reduced 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase activity. The ability of insulin to phosphorylate Akt and activate glycogen synthase (GS) was reduced with normal GS site 3 but abnormal GS site 2+2a phosphorylation after bed rest. Exercise enhanced insulin-stimulated leg glucose extraction both before and after bed rest, which was accompanied by higher GS activity in the prior-exercised leg than the rested leg. The present findings demonstrate that physical inactivity-induced insulin resistance in muscle is associated with lower content/activity of key proteins in glucose transport/phosphorylation and storage.
Blood doping practices in sports have been around for at least half a century and will likely remain for several years to come. The main reason for the various forms of blood doping to be common is that they are easy to perform, and the effects on exercise performance are gigantic. Yet another reason for blood doping to be a popular illicit practice is that detection is difficult. For autologous blood transfusions, for example, no direct test exists, and the direct testing of misuse with recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEpo) has proven very difficult despite a test exists. Future blood doping practice will likely include the stabilization of the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor which leads to an increased endogenous erythropoietin synthesis. It seems unrealistic to develop specific test against such drugs (and the copies hereof originating from illegal laboratories). In an attempt to detect and limit blood doping, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has launched the Athlete Biological Passport where indirect markers for all types of blood doping are evaluated on an individual level. The approach seemed promising, but a recent publication demonstrates the system to be incapable of detecting even a single subject as 'suspicious' while treated with rhEpo for 10-12 weeks. Sad to say, the hope that the 2012 London Olympics should be cleaner in regard to blood doping seems faint. We propose that WADA strengthens the quality and capacities of the National Anti-Doping Agencies and that they work more efficiently with the international sports federations in an attempt to limit blood doping.
The effects of physical training on the formation of vasodilating and vasoconstricting compounds, as well as on related proteins important for vascular function, were examined in skeletal muscle of individuals with essential hypertension (n=10). Muscle microdialysis samples were obtained from subjects with hypertension before and after 16 weeks of physical training. Muscle dialysates were analyzed for thromboxane A(2), prostacyclin, nucleotides, and nitrite/nitrate. Protein levels of thromboxane synthase, prostacyclin synthase, cyclooxygenase 1 and 2, endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), cystathionine-γ-lyase, cytochrome P450 4A and 2C9, and the purinergic receptors P2X1 and P2Y2 were determined in skeletal muscle. The protein levels were compared with those of normotensive control subjects (n=12). Resting muscle dialysate thromboxane A(2) and prostacyclin concentrations were lower (P<0.05) after training compared with before training. Before training, dialysate thromboxane A(2) decreased with acute exercise, whereas after training, no changes were found. Before training, dialysate prostacyclin levels did not increase with acute exercise, whereas after training there was an 82% (P<0.05) increase from rest to exercise. The exercise-induced increase in ATP and ADP was markedly reduced after training (P<0.05). The amount of eNOS protein in the hypertensive subjects was 40% lower (P<0.05) than in the normotensive control subjects, whereas cystathionine-γ-lyase levels were 25% higher (P<0.05), potentially compensating for the lower eNOS level. We conclude that exercise training alters the balance between vasodilating and vasoconstricting compounds as evidenced by a decrease in the level of thromboxane, reduction in the exercise-induced increase in ATP and a greater exercise-induced increase in prostacyclin.
The aim was to test the hypothesis that 7 days of bed rest reduces mitochondrial number and expression and activity of oxidative proteins in human skeletal muscle but that exercise-induced intracellular signaling as well as mRNA and microRNA (miR) responses are maintained after bed rest. Twelve young, healthy male subjects completed 7 days of bed rest with vastus lateralis muscle biopsies taken before and after bed rest. In addition, muscle biopsies were obtained from six of the subjects prior to, immediately after, and 3 h after 45 min of one-legged knee extensor exercise performed before and after bed rest. Maximal oxygen uptake decreased by 4%, and exercise endurance decreased nonsignificantly, by 11%, by bed rest. Bed rest reduced skeletal muscle mitochondrial DNA/nuclear DNA content 15%, hexokinase II and sirtuin 1 protein content ∼45%, 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase and citrate synthase activity ∼8%, and miR-1 and miR-133a content ∼10%. However, cytochrome c and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) protein content as well as capillarization did not change significantly with bed rest. Acute exercise increased AMP-activated protein kinase phosphorylation, peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-γ coactivator-1α, and VEGF mRNA content in skeletal muscle before bed rest, but the responses were abolished after bed rest. The present findings indicate that only 7 days of physical inactivity reduces skeletal muscle metabolic capacity as well as abolishes exercise-induced adaptive gene responses, likely reflecting an interference with the ability of skeletal muscle to adapt to exercise.
To test the hypothesis that physical inactivity impairs the exercise-induced modulation of pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH), six healthy normally physically active male subjects completed 7 days of bed rest. Before and immediately after the bed rest, the subjects completed an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and a one-legged knee extensor exercise bout [45 min at 60% maximal load (W(max))] with muscle biopsies obtained from vastus lateralis before, immediately after exercise, and at 3 h of recovery. Blood samples were taken from the femoral vein and artery before and after 40 min of exercise. Glucose intake elicited a larger (P ≤ 0.05) insulin response after bed rest than before, indicating glucose intolerance. There were no differences in lactate release/uptake across the exercising muscle before and after bed rest, but glucose uptake after 40 min of exercise was larger (P ≤ 0.05) before bed rest than after. Muscle glycogen content tended to be higher (0.05< P ≤ 0.10) after bed rest than before, but muscle glycogen breakdown in response to exercise was similar before and after bed rest. PDH-E1α protein content did not change in response to bed rest or in response to the exercise intervention. Exercise increased (P ≤ 0.05) the activity of PDH in the active form (PDHa) and induced (P ≤ 0.05) dephosphorylation of PDH-E1α on Ser²⁹³, Ser²⁹⁵ and Ser³⁰⁰, with no difference before and after bed rest. In conclusion, although 7 days of bed rest induced whole body glucose intolerance, exercise-induced PDH regulation in skeletal muscle was not changed. This suggests that exercise-induced PDH regulation in skeletal muscle is maintained in glucose-intolerant (e.g., insulin resistant) individuals.
Although glycogen is known to be heterogeneously distributed within skeletal muscle cells, there is presently little information available about the role of fibre types, utilization and resynthesis during and after exercise with respect to glycogen localization. Here, we tested the hypothesis that utilization of glycogen with different subcellular localizations during exhaustive arm and leg exercise differs and examined the influence of fibre type and carbohydrate availability on its subsequent resynthesis. When 10 elite endurance athletes (22 ± 1 years, = 68 ± 5 ml kg-1 min-1, mean ± SD) performed one hour of exhaustive arm and leg exercise, transmission electron microscopy revealed more pronounced depletion of intramyofibrillar than of intermyofibrillar and subsarcolemmal glycogen. This phenomenon was the same for type I and II fibres, although at rest prior to exercise, the former contained more intramyofibrillar and subsarcolemmal glycogen than the latter. In highly glycogen-depleted fibres, the remaining small intermyofibrillar and subsarcolemmal glycogen particles were often found to cluster in groupings. In the recovery period, when the athletes received either a carbohydrate-rich meal or only water the impaired resynthesis of glycogen with water alone was associated primarily with intramyofibrillar glycogen. In conclusion, after prolonged high-intensity exercise the depletion of glycogen is dependent on subcellular localization. In addition, the localization of glycogen appears to be influenced by fibre type prior to exercise, as well as carbohydrate availability during the subsequent period of recovery. These findings provide insight into the significance of fibre type-specific compartmentalization of glycogen metabolism in skeletal muscle during exercise and subsequent recovery. © 2011 The Authors. Journal compilation
During exercise involving a small muscle mass, peak oxygen uptake is thought to be limited by peripheral factors, such as the degree of oxygen extraction from the blood and/or mitochondrial oxidative capacity. Previously, the maximal activity of the Krebs cycle enzyme oxoglutarate dehydrogenase has been shown to provide a quantitative measure of maximal oxidative metabolism, but it is not known whether the increase in this activity after a period of training reflects the elevation in peak oxygen consumption. Fourteen subjects performed one-legged knee extension exercise for 5-7 weeks, while the other leg remained untrained. Thereafter, the peak oxygen uptake by the quadriceps muscle was determined for both legs, and muscle biopsies were taken for assays of maximal enzyme activities (at 25°C). The peak oxygen uptake was 26% higher in the trained than in the untrained muscle (395 vs. 315 ml min(-1) kg(-1), respectively; P<0.01). The maximal activities of the Krebs cycle enzymes in the trained and untrained muscle were as follows: citrate synthase, 22.4 vs. 18.2 μmol min(-1) g(-1) (23%, P<0.05); oxoglutarate dehydrogenase, 1.88 vs. 1.54 μmol min(-1) g(-1) (22%, P<0.05); and succinate dehydrogenase, 3.88 vs. 3.28 μmol min(-1) g(-1) (18%, P<0.05). The difference between the trained and untrained muscles with respect to peak oxygen uptake (80 ml min(-1) kg(-1)) corresponded to a flux through the Krebs cycle of 1.05 μmol min(-1) g(-1), and the corresponding difference in oxoglutarate dehydrogenase activity (at 38°C) was 0.83 μmol min(-1) g(-1). These parallel increases suggest that there is no excess mitochondrial capacity during maximal exercise with a small muscle mass.
The aim of this study was to test the hypotheses that 1) skeletal muscles of elderly subjects can adapt to a single endurance exercise bout and 2) endurance trained elderly subjects have higher expression/activity of oxidative and angiogenic proteins in skeletal muscle than untrained elderly people. To investigate this, lifelong endurance trained elderly (ET; n = 8) aged 71.3 ± 3.4 years and untrained elderly subjects (UT; n = 7) aged 71.3 ± 4 years, performed a cycling exercise bout at 75% VO(2max) with vastus lateralis muscle biopsies obtained before (Pre), immediately after exercise (0 h) and at 2 h of recovery. Capillarization was detected histochemically and oxidative enzyme activities were determined on isolated mitochondria. GLUT4, HKII, Cyt c and VEGF protein expression was measured on muscle lysates from Pre-biopsies, phosphorylation of AMPK and P38 on lysates from Pre and 0 h biopsies, while PGC-1α, VEGF, HKII and TFAM mRNA content was determined at all time points. ET had ~40% higher PDH, CS, SDH, α-KG-DH and ATP synthase activities and 27% higher capillarization than UT, reflecting increased skeletal muscle oxidative capacity with lifelong endurance exercise training. In addition, acute exercise increased in UT PGC-1α mRNA 11-fold and VEGF mRNA 4-fold at 2 h of recovery, and AMPK phosphorylation ~5-fold immediately after exercise, relative to Pre, indicating an ability to adapt metabolically and angiogenically to endurance exercise. However, in ET PGC-1α mRNA only increased 5 fold and AMPK phosphorylation ~2-fold, while VEGF mRNA remained unchanged after the acute exercise bout. P38 increased similarly in ET and UT after exercise. In conclusion, the present findings suggest that lifelong endurance exercise training ensures an improved oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle, and that skeletal muscle of elderly subjects maintains the ability to respond to acute endurance exercise.
The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of nitric oxide and prostanoids on microcirculation and oxygen uptake, specifically in the active skeletal muscle by use of positron emission tomography (PET). Healthy males performed three 5-min bouts of light knee-extensor exercise. Skeletal muscle blood flow and oxygen uptake were measured at rest and during the exercise using PET with H(2)O(15) and (15)O(2) during: 1) control conditions; 2) nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibition by arterial infusion of N(G)-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA), and 3) combined NOS and cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibition by arterial infusion of L-NMMA and indomethacin. At rest, inhibition of NOS alone and in combination with indomethacin reduced (P < 0.05) muscle blood flow. NOS inhibition increased (P < 0.05) limb oxygen extraction fraction (OEF) more than the reduction in muscle blood flow, resulting in an ∼20% increase (P < 0.05) in resting muscle oxygen consumption. During exercise, muscle blood flow and oxygen uptake were not altered with NOS inhibition, whereas muscle OEF was increased (P < 0.05). NOS and COX inhibition reduced (P < 0.05) blood flow in working quadriceps femoris muscle by 13%, whereas muscle OEF and oxygen uptake were enhanced by 51 and 30%, respectively. In conclusion, by specifically measuring blood flow and oxygen uptake by the use of PET instead of whole limb measurements, the present study shows for the first time in humans that inhibition of NO formation enhances resting muscle oxygen uptake and that combined inhibition of NOS and COX during exercise increases muscle oxygen uptake.
Sympathetic vasoconstriction is blunted in contracting human skeletal muscles (functional sympatholysis). In young subjects, infusion of adenosine and ATP increases blood flow, and the latter compound also attenuates α-adrenergic vasoconstriction. In patients with type 2 diabetes and age-matched healthy subjects, we tested 1) the sympatholytic capacity during one-legged exercise, 2) the vasodilatory capacity of adenosine and ATP, and 3) the ability to blunt α-adrenergic vasoconstriction during ATP infusion. In 10 control subjects and 10 patients with diabetes and normal endothelial function, determined by leg blood flow (LBF) response to acetylcholine infusion, we measured LBF and venous NA, with and without tyramine-induced sympathetic vasoconstriction, during adenosine-, ATP-, and exercise-induced hyperemia. LBF during acetylcholine did not differ significantly. LBF increased ninefold during exercise and during adenosine- and ATP-induced hyperemia. Infusion of tyramine during exercise did not reduce LBF in either the control or the patient group. During combined ATP and tyramine infusions, LBF decreased by 30% in both groups. Adenosine had no sympatholytic effect. In patients with type 2 diabetes and normal endothelial function, functional sympatholysis was intact during moderate exercise. The vasodilatory response for adenosine and ATP did not differ between the patients with diabetes and the control subjects; however, the vasodilatory effect of adenosine and ATP and the sympatholytic effect of ATP seem to decline with age.
Across a wide range of species and body mass a close matching exists between maximal conductive oxygen delivery and mitochondrial respiratory rate. In this study we investigated in humans how closely in-vivo maximal oxygen consumption (VO(2) max) is matched to state 3 muscle mitochondrial respiration. High resolution respirometry was used to quantify mitochondrial respiration from the biopsies of arm and leg muscles while in-vivo arm and leg VO(2) were determined by the Fick method during leg cycling and arm cranking. We hypothesized that muscle mitochondrial respiratory rate exceeds that of systemic oxygen delivery. The state 3 mitochondrial respiration of the deltoid muscle (4.3±0.4 mmol o(2)kg(-1) min(-1)) was similar to the in-vivo VO(2) during maximal arm cranking (4.7±0.5 mmol O(2) kg(-1) min(-1)) with 6 kg muscle. In contrast, the mitochondrial state 3 of the quadriceps was 6.9±0.5 mmol O(2) kg(-1) min(-1), exceeding the in-vivo leg VO(2) max (5.0±0.2 mmol O(2) kg(-1) min(-1)) during leg cycling with 20 kg muscle (P<0.05). Thus, when half or more of the body muscle mass is engaged during exercise, muscle mitochondrial respiratory capacity surpasses in-vivo VO(2) max. The findings reveal an excess capacity of muscle mitochondrial respiratory rate over O(2) delivery by the circulation in the cascade defining maximal oxidative rate in humans.
Exercising muscle releases interleukin-6 (IL-6), but the mechanisms controlling this process are poorly understood. This study was performed to test the hypothesis that the IL-6 release differs in arm and leg muscle during whole-body exercise, owing to differences in muscle metabolism. Sixteen subjects (10 men and six women, with body mass index 24 ± 1 kg m−2 and peak oxygen uptake 3.4 ± 0.6 l min−1) performed a 90 min combined arm and leg cycle exercise at 60% of maximal oxygen uptake. The subjects arrived at the laboratory having fasted overnight, and catheters were placed in the femoral artery and vein and in the subclavian vein. During exercise, arterial and venous limb blood was sampled and arm and leg blood flow were measured by thermodilution. Lean limb mass was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorbtiometry scanning. Before and after exercise, biopsies were obtained from vastus lateralis and deltoideus. During exercise, IL-6 release was similar between men and women and higher (P < 0.05) from arms than legs (1.01 ± 0.42 and 0.33 ± 0.12 ng min−1 (kg lean limb mass)−1, respectively). Blood flow (425 ± 36 and 554 ± 35 ml min−1 (kg lean limb mass)−1) and fatty acid uptake (26 ± 7 and 47 ± 7 μmol min−1 (kg lean limb mass)−1) were lower, glucose uptake similar (51 ± 12 and 41 ± 8 mmol min−1 (kg lean limb mass)−1) and lactate release higher (82 ± 32 and −2 ± 12 μmol min−1 (kg lean limb mass)−1) in arms than legs, respectively, during exercise (P < 0.05). No correlations were present between IL-6 release and exogenous substrate uptakes. Muscle glycogen was similar in arms and legs before exercise (388 ± 22 and 428 ± 25 mmol (kg dry weight)−1), but after exercise it was only significantly lower in the leg (219 ± 29 mmol (kg dry weight)−1). The novel finding of a markedly higher IL-6 release from the exercising arm compared with the leg during whole-body exercise was not directly correlated to release or uptake of exogenous substrate, nor to muscle glycogen utilization.
Little is known about the precise mechanism that relates skeletal muscle glycogen to muscle fatigue. The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of glycogen on sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) function in the arm and leg muscles of elite cross-country skiers (n = 10, (V) over dot(O2 max) 72 +/- 2 ml kg(-1) min(-1)) before, immediately after, and 4 h and 22 h after a fatiguing 1 h ski race. During the first 4 h recovery, skiers received either water or carbohydrate (CHO) and thereafter all received CHO-enriched food. Immediately after the race, arm glycogen was reduced to 31 +/- 4% and SR Ca2+ release rate decreased to 85 +/- 2% of initial levels. Glycogen noticeably recovered after 4 h recovery with CHO (59 +/- 5% initial) and the SR Ca2+ release rate returned to pre-exercise levels. However, in the absence of CHO during the first 4 h recovery, glycogen and the SR Ca2+ release rate remained unchanged (29 +/- 2% and 77 +/- 8%, respectively), with both parameters becoming normal after the remaining 18 h recovery with CHO. Leg muscle glycogen decreased to a lesser extent (71 +/- 10% initial), with no effects on the SR Ca2+ release rate. Interestingly, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis revealed that the specific pool of intramyofibrillar glycogen, representing 10-15% of total glycogen, was highly significantly correlated with the SR Ca2+ release rate. These observations strongly indicate that low glycogen and especially intramyofibrillar glycogen, as suggested by TEM, modulate the SR Ca2+ release rate in highly trained subjects. Thus, low glycogen during exercise may contribute to fatigue by causing a decreased SR Ca2+ release rate.
Intraluminal ATP could play an important role in the local regulation of skeletal muscle blood flow, but the stimuli that cause ATP release and the levels of plasma ATP in vessels supplying and draining human skeletal muscle remain unclear. To gain insight into the mechanisms by which ATP is released into plasma, we measured plasma [ATP] with the intravascular microdialysis technique at rest and during dynamic exercise (normoxia and hypoxia), passive exercise, thigh compressions and arterial ATP, tyramine and ACh infusion in a total of 16 healthy young men. Femoral arterial and venous [ATP] values were 109 ± 34 and 147 ± 45 nmol l(−1) at rest and increased to 363 ± 83 and 560 ± 111 nmol l(−1), respectively, during exercise (P < 0.05), whereas these values did not increase when exercise was performed with the other leg. Hypoxia increased venous plasma [ATP] at rest compared to normoxia (P < 0.05), but not during exercise. Arterial ATP infusion (≤1.8 μmol min(−1) increased arterial plasma [ATP] from 74 ± 17 to 486 ± 82 nmol l(−1) (P < 0.05), whereas it remained unchanged in the femoral vein at ∼150 nmol l(−1). Both arterial and venous plasma [ATP] decreased during acetylcholine infusion (P < 0.05). Rhythmic thigh compressions increased arterial and venous plasma [ATP] compared to baseline conditions, whereas these values did not change during passive exercise or tyramine infusion. These results demonstrate that ATP is released locally into arterial and venous plasma during exercise and during hypoxia at rest. Compression of the vascular system could contribute to the increase during exercise whereas there appears to be little ATP release in response to increased blood flow, vascular stretch or sympathetic ATP release. Furthermore, the half-life of arterially infused ATP is <1 s.
As a consequence to hypobaric hypoxic exposure skeletal muscle atrophy is often reported. The underlying mechanism has been suggested to involve a decrease in protein synthesis in order to conserve O(2). With the aim to challenge this hypothesis, we applied a primed, constant infusion of 1-(13)C-leucine in nine healthy male subjects at sea level and subsequently at high-altitude (4559 m) after 7-9 days of acclimatization. Physical activity levels and food and energy intake were controlled prior to the two experimental conditions with the aim to standardize these confounding factors. Blood samples and expired breath samples were collected hourly during the 4 hour trial and vastus lateralis muscle biopsies obtained at 1 and 4 hours after tracer priming in the overnight fasted state. Myofibrillar protein synthesis rate was doubled; 0.041±0.018 at sea-level to 0.080±0.018%⋅hr(-1) (p<0.05) when acclimatized to high altitude. The sarcoplasmic protein synthesis rate was in contrast unaffected by altitude exposure; 0.052±0.019 at sea-level to 0.059±0.010%⋅hr(-1) (p>0.05). Trends to increments in whole body protein kinetics were seen: Degradation rate elevated from 2.51±0.21 at sea level to 2.73±0.13 µmol⋅kg(-1)⋅min(-1) (p = 0.05) at high altitude and synthesis rate similar; 2.24±0.20 at sea level and 2.43±0.13 µmol⋅kg(-1)⋅min(-1) (p>0.05) at altitude. We conclude that whole body amino acid flux is increased due to an elevated protein turnover rate. Resting skeletal muscle myocontractile protein synthesis rate was concomitantly elevated by high-altitude induced hypoxia, whereas the sarcoplasmic protein synthesis rate was unaffected by hypoxia. These changed responses may lead to divergent adaptation over the course of prolonged exposure.
One major unresolved issue in muscle blood flow regulation is that of the role of circulating versus interstitial vasodilatory compounds. The present study determined adenosine-induced formation of NO and prostacyclin in the human muscle interstitium versus in femoral venous plasma to elucidate the interaction and importance of these vasodilators in the 2 compartments. To this end, we performed experiments on humans using microdialysis technique in skeletal muscle tissue, as well as the femoral vein, combined with experiments on cultures of microvascular endothelial versus skeletal muscle cells. In young healthy humans, microdialysate was collected at rest, during arterial infusion of adenosine, and during interstitial infusion of adenosine through microdialysis probes inserted into musculus vastus lateralis. Muscle interstitial NO and prostacyclin increased with arterial and interstitial infusion of adenosine. The addition of adenosine to skeletal muscle cells increased NO formation (fluorochrome 4-amino-5-methylamino-2',7-difluorescein fluorescence), whereas prostacyclin levels remained unchanged. The addition of adenosine to microvascular endothelial cells induced an increase in NO and prostacyclin levels. These findings provide novel insight into the role of adenosine in skeletal muscle blood flow regulation and vascular function by revealing that both interstitial and plasma adenosine have a stimulatory effect on NO and prostacyclin formation. In addition, both skeletal muscle and microvascular endothelial cells are potential mediators of adenosine-induced formation of NO in vivo, whereas only endothelial cells appear to play a role in adenosine-induced formation of prostacyclin.
It was investigated whether skeletal muscle K(+) release is linked to the degree of anaerobic energy production. Six subjects performed an incremental bicycle exercise test in normoxic and hypoxic conditions prior to and after 2 and 8 wk of acclimatization to 4,100 m. The highest workload completed by all subjects in all trials was 260 W. With acute hypoxic exposure prior to acclimatization, venous plasma [K(+)] was lower (P < 0.05) in normoxia (4.9 +/- 0.1 mM) than hypoxia (5.2 +/- 0.2 mM) at 260 W, but similar at exhaustion, which occurred at 400 +/- 9 W and 307 +/- 7 W (P < 0.05), respectively. At the same absolute exercise intensity, leg net K(+) release was unaffected by hypoxic exposure independent of acclimatization. After 8 wk of acclimatization, no difference existed in venous plasma [K(+)] between the normoxic and hypoxic trial, either at submaximal intensities or at exhaustion (360 +/- 14 W vs. 313 +/- 8 W; P < 0.05). At the same absolute exercise intensity, leg net K(+) release was less (P < 0.001) than prior to acclimatization and reached negative values in both hypoxic and normoxic conditions after acclimatization. Moreover, the reduction in plasma volume during exercise relative to rest was less (P < 0.01) in normoxic than hypoxic conditions, irrespective of the degree of acclimatization (at 260 W prior to acclimatization: -4.9 +/- 0.8% in normoxia and -10.0 +/- 0.4% in hypoxia). It is concluded that leg net K(+) release is unrelated to anaerobic energy production and that acclimatization reduces leg net K(+) release during exercise.
The effect of low blood flow at onset of moderate-intensity exercise on the rate of rise in muscle oxygen uptake was examined. Seven male subjects performed a 3.5-min one-legged knee-extensor exercise bout (24 +/- 1 W, mean +/- SD) without (Con) and with (double blockade; DB) arterial infusion of inhibitors of nitric oxide synthase (N(G)-monomethyl-l-arginine) and cyclooxygenase (indomethacin) to inhibit the synthesis of nitric oxide and prostanoids, respectively. Leg blood flow and leg oxygen delivery throughout exercise was 25-50% lower (P < 0.05) in DB compared with Con. Leg oxygen extraction (arteriovenous O(2) difference) was higher (P < 0.05) in DB than in Con (5 s: 127 +/- 3 vs. 56 +/- 4 ml/l), and leg oxygen uptake was not different between Con and DB during exercise. The difference between leg oxygen delivery and leg oxygen uptake was smaller (P < 0.05) during exercise in DB than in Con (5 s: 59 +/- 12 vs. 262 +/- 39 ml/min). The present data demonstrate that muscle blood flow and oxygen delivery can be markedly reduced without affecting muscle oxygen uptake in the initial phase of moderate-intensity exercise, suggesting that blood flow does not limit muscle oxygen uptake at the onset of exercise. Additionally, prostanoids and/or nitric oxide appear to play important roles in elevating skeletal muscle blood flow in the initial phase of exercise.