We examined the relative plasticity of capillaries and fiber mitochondria in rat fast-twitch hindlimb muscles in response to chronic electrical stimulation. Specifically we addressed whether the size of the capillary-fiber interface increases in proportion to fiber mitochondrial volume, inasmuch as fiber aerobic capacity increases severalfold with chronic stimulation. Tibialis anterior and extensor digitorum longus muscles of six rats [367 +/- 17 (SD) g body wt] were stimulated (10 Hz, 8 h/day, 7 days/wk) for 28 consecutive days. Subsequently they were perfusion fixed in situ and stimulated, and contralateral control samples from the midbelly were processed for electron microscopy and morphometry. Capillary length density, capillary-to-fiber ratio, and fiber mitochondrial volume density increased two- to threefold in stimulated muscles, with no change in fiber or capillary diameter. Capillary-to-fiber surface area ratio per fiber unit mitochondrial volume was unchanged in stimulated muscles compared with contralateral controls, indicating a proportional increase in the size of the capillary-fiber interface and fiber mitochondrial volume in the muscles after chronic electrical stimulation.
- Copyright © 1996 the American Physiological Society