Total muscle mitochondrial volume in relation to aerobic capacity of horses and steers

S. R. Kayar, H. Hoppeler, S. L. Lindstedt, H. Claassen, J. H. Jones, B. Essen-Gustavsson, C. R. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


The relationship between maximal oxygen consumption rate ( {Mathematical expression}) and mitochondrial content of skeletal muscles was examined in horses and steers (n=3 each). Samples of the heart left ventricle, diaphragm, m. vastus medialis, m. semitendinosus, m. cutaneous thoracicus and m. masseter, as well as samples of muscles collected in a whole-body sampling procedure, were analyzed by electron microscopy. {Mathematical expression} per kilogram body mass was 2.7× greater in horses than steers. This higher {Mathematical expression} was in proportion to the higher total volume of mitochondria in horse versus steer muscle when analyzed from the whole-body samples and from the locomotor muscle samples. In non-locomotor muscles, total mitochondrial volume was greater in horses than steers, but not in proportion to their differences in {Mathematical expression}. The {Mathematical expression} of the mitochondria was estimated to be close to 4.5 ml O2·ml-1 mitochondria in both species. It is concluded that in a comparison of a highly aerobic to a less aerobic mammalian species of similar body size, a higher oxidative potential may be found in all muscles of the more aerobic species. This greater oxidative potential is achieved by a greater total volume of skeletal muscle mitochondria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-347
Number of pages5
JournalPflügers Archiv European Journal of Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 1989


  • Exercise
  • Heart
  • Mitochondria
  • Oxygen uptake
  • Respiration
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


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