The capillary supply of human skeletal muscle in health and disease
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BACKGROUND: Capillaries function to provide a surface area for nutrient and waste exchange with cells. The capillary supply of skeletal muscle is highly organized, and therefore, represents an excellent choice to study factors regulating diffusion. Muscle is comprised of three specific fibre types, each with specific contractile and metabolic characteristics, which influence the capillary supply of a given muscle; in addition, both environmental and genetic factors influence the capillary supply, including aging, physical training, and various disease processes. OBJECTIVE: The present study was undertaken to develop and assess the functionality of a data base, from which virtual experiments can be conducted on the capillary supply of human muscle, and the adaptations of the capillary bed in muscle to various perturbations. METHODS: To create the database, an extensive search of the literature was conducted using various search engines, and the three key words - "capillary, muscle, and human". This search yielded 169 papers from which the data for the 46 variables on the capillary supply and fibre characteristics of muscle were extracted for inclusion in the database. A series of statistical analyses (ANOVA) were done on the capillary database to examine differences in skeletal muscle capillarization and fibre characteristics between young and old individuals, between healthy and diseased individuals, and between untrained, endurance trained, endurance welltrained, and resistance trained individuals, using SAS. RESULTS: There was a significantly higher capillarization in the young compared to the old individuals, in the healthy compared to the diseased individuals, and in the endurance-trained and endurance well-trained compared to the untrained individuals. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study support the conclusion that the capillary supply of skeletal muscle is closely regulated by factors aimed at optimizing oxygen and nutrient supply and/or waste removal in response to changes in muscle mass and/or metabolic activity.