Theoretical simulation of K+-based mechanisms for regulation of capillary perfusion in skeletal muscle

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7 Scopus citations


Muscle fibers release K+ into the interstitial space upon recruitment. Increased local interstitial K+ concentration ([K +]) can cause dilation of terminal arterioles, leading to perfusion of downstream capillaries. The possibility that capillary perfusion can be regulated by vascular responses to [K+] was examined using a theoretical model. The model takes into account the spatial relationship between functional units of muscle fiber recruitment and capillary perfusion. Diffusion of K+ in the interstitial space was simulated. Two hypothetical mechanisms for vascular sensing of interstitial [K+] were considered: direct sensing by arterioles and sensing by capillaries with stimulation of feeding arterioles via conducted responses. Control by arteriolar sensing led to poor tissue oxygenation at high levels of muscle activation. With control by capillary sensing, increases in perfusion matched increases in oxygen demand. The time course of perfusion after sudden muscle activation was considered. Predicted capillary perfusion increased rapidly within the first 5 s of muscle fiber activation. The reuptake of K+ by muscle fibers had a minor effect on the increase of interstitial [K+]. Uptake by perfused capillaries was primarily responsible for limiting the increase in [K +] in the interstitial space at the onset of fiber activation. Vascular responses to increasing interstitial [K+] may contribute to the rapid increase in blood flow that is observed to occur after the onset of muscle contraction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H833-H840
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number2 56-2
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Blood flow regulation
  • Interstitial space
  • Microvascular units
  • Motor units
  • Oxygen diffusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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