Pulmonary capillaries are recruited during pulsatile flow

Robert G. Presson, William A. Baumgartner, Amanda J. Peterson, Robb W. Glenny, Wiltz W. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Capillaries recruit when pulmonary arterial pressure rises. The duration of increased pressure imposed in such experiments is usually on the order of minutes, although recent work shows that the recruitment response can occur in <4 s. In the present study, we investigate whether the brief pressure rise during cardiac systole can also cause recruitment and whether the recruitment is maintained during diastole. To study these basic aspects of pulmonary capillary hemodynamics, isolated dog lungs were pump perfused alternately by steady flow and pulsatile flow with the mean arterial and left atrial pressures held constant. Several direct measurements of capillary recruitment were made with videomicroscopy. The total number and total length of perfused capillaries increased significantly during pulsatile flow by 94 and 105%, respectively. Of the newly recruited capillaries, 92% were perfused by red blood cells throughout the pulsatile cycle. These data provide the first direct account of how the pulmonary capillaries respond to pulsatile flow by showing that capillaries are recruited during the systolic pulse and that, once open, the capillaries remain open throughout the pulsatile cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1183-1190
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Capillary transit time
  • Dog
  • Microspheres
  • Pulmonary microcirculation
  • Videomicroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Pulmonary capillaries are recruited during pulsatile flow'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this