Author(s): Marshall JM, Tandon HC
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Abstract Direct observations have been made of responses of individual arterioles and venules of rat spinotrapezius muscle to contraction of the skeletal muscle fibres. Stimuli of 4-6 V intensity, 0.1 ms duration, delivered via a micro-electrode inserted into the spinotrapezius, evoked contraction of a small bundle of skeletal muscle fibres, followed by vasodilatation which was limited to all those arterioles and venules which crossed or ran alongside activated muscle fibres. Since venules outside the region of contraction, but supplied by dilating arterioles, were not passively distended by the attendant rise in intravascular pressure, it is concluded that both the arterioles and venules dilated actively in response to muscle contraction. All arterioles responded to a single twitch contraction, the terminal arterioles (7-13 micron i.d.) showing the largest increase in diameter. Collecting venules (9-18 micron i.d.) responded to just two twitches in 1 s and larger venules to five twitches in 1 s. When twitch contractions were continuously evoked for 10 s, the responses in individual arterioles and venules were graded with twitch frequency, the fastest and largest response occurring at 6-8 Hz. Tetanic contraction, at 40 Hz for 1 s, produced faster responses in all vessels, a maximum 55\% increase from resting internal diameter being attained in only 8 s in some terminal arterioles. In all vessels the responses to tetanic contraction were equal to the maximal dilatation induced by papaverine. These results, in contrast with conclusions drawn from indirect estimates of venous responses, show that venules, like arterioles, dilate actively in response to muscle contraction. Venule dilatation may reduce the rise in capillary hydrostatic pressure, thereby limiting the outward filtration of fluid.
This article was published in J Physiol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Pharmacology