Design of the mammalian respiratory system. VIII. Capillaries in skeletal muscles

Hans Hoppeler, Odile Mathieu, Ewald R. Weibel, Rudolf Krauer, Stan L. Lindstedt, C. R. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


The relationship between capillary density and mitochondrial volume density in skeletal muscle tissue is investigated on 25 African mammals ranging in body mass from 0.4 to 251 kg. As a general trend higher capillary densities, NA(c,f), are found in muscles with higher volume densities of mitochondria, VV(mt,f). The individual data however show considerable scatter. Part of this scatter can be explained by the fact that NA(c,f) alone is not a sufficient parameter to account for functional properties of the vascular supply. The regional variability of the capillary network from arterial to venous end also contributes to the data spread. A number of physiological variables of the vascular compartment may also influence the relationship of capillary counts to the mitochondrial densities of muscle fibers. This relationship therefore cannot be expected to be a simple one.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-150
Number of pages22
JournalRespiration Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1981


  • African mammals
  • Allometry
  • Capillary density
  • Capillary length
  • Mitochondrial density
  • Muscle fiber types

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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