Oxygen tension distribution in postcapillary venules in resting skeletal muscle

Darin J. Saltzman, Andras Toth, Amy G. Tsai, Marcos Intaglietta, Paul C. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)


We tested the hypothesis that blood flow is distributed among capillary networks in resting skeletal muscle in such a manner as to maintain uniform end-capillary PO2. Oxygen tension in venules draining two to five capillaries was obtained by using the phosphorescence decay methodology in rat spinotrapezius muscle. For 64 postcapillary venules among 18 networks in 10 animals, the mean PO2 was 30.1 Torr (range, 9.7-43.5 Torr) with a coefficient of variation (CV; standard deviation/mean) of 0.26. Oxygen levels of post-capillary venules within a single network or single animal, however, displayed a much smaller CV (0.064 and 0.094, respectively). By comparison, the CV of blood flow in 57 postcapillary venules of 17 networks in 9 animals was 1.27 with a mean flow of 0.011 ± 0.014 nl/s and a range of 3.7 × 10-4 to 6.5 × 10-2 nl/s. Blood flow of postcapillary venules within single networks displayed a lower CV (mean, 0.51), whereas that in individual animals was 0.78. Results indicate that among venular networks, heterogeneity of oxygen tension is less than that of blood flow and within venular networks the heterogeneity of oxygen tension is much less than that of blood flow. In addition, postcapillary PO2 was independent of flow among venules in which both were measured. Results of this study may be attributable to three factors: 1) O2 diffusion between adjacent capillaries and venules, 2) structural remodeling in regions of lower PO2, and 3) O2-dependent local control mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H1980-H1985
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number5 54-5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003


  • Coefficient of variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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