Assessment and impact of heterogeneities of convective oxygen transport parameters in capillaries of striated muscle: Experimental and theoretical

Mary L. Ellsworth, Aleksander S. Popel, Roland N. Pittman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Convective oxygen transport parameters were determined in arteriolar (n = 5) and venular (n = 5) capillary networks in the hamster cheek pouch retractor muscle. Simultaneously determined values of red blood cell velocity, lineal density, red blood cell frequency, hemoglobin oxygen saturation (SO2), oxygen flow (QO2), longitudinal SO2 gradient, and diameter were obtained in a total of 73 capillaries, 39 at the arteriolar ends of the network (arteriolar capillaries) and 34 at the venular ends (venular capillaries). We found that the hemodynamic variables were not different at the two ends. However, not unexpectedly, SO2 and QO2 were significantly higher at the upstream end of arteriolar capillaries (60.8 ± 9.8 (SD)% and 0.150 ± 0.081 pl/sec, respectively) compared with the downstream end of venular capillaries (39.9 ± 13.6% and 0.108 ± 0.095 pl/sec, respectively). Heterogeneities in red blood cell velocity, lineal density, SO2, and QO2, assessed by their coefficients of variation, were significantly greater in venular capillaries. To evaluate the impact of these heterogeneities on oxygen exchange, we incorporated these unique experimental data into a mathematical model of oxygen transport which accounts for variability in red blood cell frequency, lineal density, inlet SO2, capillary diameter, and, to some degree, capillary flow path lengths. An unexpected result of the simulation is that only the incorporation of variability in capillary flow path lengths had any marked effect on the heterogeneity in end-capillary SO2 in resting muscle due to extensive diffusional shunting of oxygen among adjacent capillaries. We subsequently evaluated, through model simulations, the effect of these heterogeneities under conditions of increased flow and high oxygen consumption. Under these conditions, the model predicts that heterogeneities in the hemodynamic parameters will have a marked effect on oxygen transport in this muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-362
Number of pages22
JournalMicrovascular Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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