Functional adaptations of rat skeletal muscle arterioles to aerobic exercise training

J. M. Lash, H. G. Bohlen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

90 Scopus citations


This study tested the hypothesis that both structural and functional adaptations of arterioles occur within the skeletal muscle of rats aerobically trained for 8-10 wk with treadmill exercise. The training regimen used has been shown to elicit a 37% increase in plantaris citrate synthase activity but did not result in an elevation in citrate synthase activity in the spinotrapezius or gracilis muscles of rats used in this study. In the in vivo resting spinotrapezius muscle, arteriole diameters were similar in sedentary (SED) and trained (TR) rats. However, large- (1A) and intermediate- (2A) sized arterioles dilated proportionately more in TR than in SED rats during 1- to 8-Hz muscle contractions, even though the passive mechanical properties (circumference-passive wall tension relationships) were similar between groups. Vascular casts demonstrated a trend for an increase in the number of small (3A) arterioles and an ~20% increase in the passive diameter of 1A and 2A arterioles in the spinotrapezius muscle of TR rats. In contrast, in the gracilis muscle, arteriole diameters and density were identical in SED and TR rats, but the capillary-to-muscle fiber ratio was ~15% higher in TR rats. The results suggest that aerobic exercise training can greatly increase functional vasodilation and induce a slight increase in vascular density in skeletal muscle tissues, even if the oxidative capacity of these tissues is not increased by the training regimen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2052-2062
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1992


  • active and passive tension
  • vessel density
  • vessel wall mechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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