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    The role of the microcirculation in muscle function and plasticity

    Hendrickse, Paul and Degens, Hans ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7399-4841 (2019) The role of the microcirculation in muscle function and plasticity. Journal of Muscle Research and Cell Motility, 40 (2). pp. 127-140. ISSN 0142-4319

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    It is widely acknowledged that maintenance of muscle, size, strength and endurance is necessary for quality of life and the role that skeletal muscle microcirculation plays in muscle health is becoming increasingly clear. Here we discuss the role that skeletal muscle microcirculation plays in muscle function and plasticity. Besides the density of the capillary network, also the distribution of capillaries is crucial for adequate muscle oxygenation. While capillaries are important for oxygen delivery, the capillary supply to a fibre is related to fibre size rather than oxidative capacity. This link between fibre size and capillary supply is also reflected by the similar time course of hypertrophy and angiogenesis, and the cross-talk between capillaries and satellite cells. A dense vascular network may in fact be more important for a swift repair of muscle damage than the abundance of satellite cells and a lower capillary density may also attenuate the hypertrophic response. Capillary rarefaction does not only occur during ageing, but also during conditions as chronic heart failure, where endothelial apoptosis has been reported to precede muscle atrophy. It has been suggested that capillary rarefaction precedes sarcopenia. If so, stimulation of angiogenesis by for instance endurance training before a hypertrophic stimulus may enhance the hypertrophic response. The microcirculation may thus well be a little-explored target to improve muscle function and the success of rehabilitation programmes during ageing and chronic diseases.

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