The purpose of this study was to investigate blood flow and its heterogeneity within and among the knee muscles in five young (26 ± 6 years) and five old (77 ± 6 years) healthy men with similar levels of physical activity while they performed two types of submaximal fatiguing isometric contraction that required either force or position control. Positron emission tomography (PET) and [15O]-H2O were used to determine blood flow at 2 min (beginning) and 12 min (end) after the start of the tasks. Young and old men had similar maximal forces and endurance times for the fatiguing tasks. Although muscle volumes were lower in the older subjects, total muscle blood flow was similar in both groups (young men: 25.8 ± 12.6 ml min-1; old men: 25.1 ± 15.4 ml min-1; age main effect, P = 0.77) as blood flow per unit mass of muscle in the exercising knee extensors was greater in the older (12.5 ± 6.2 ml min-1 (100 g)-1) than the younger (8.6 ± 3.6 ml min-1 (100 g)-1) men (age main effect, P = 0.001). Further, blood flow heterogeneity in the exercising knee extensors was significantly lower in the older (56 ± 27%) than the younger (67 ± 34%) men. Together, these data show that although skeletal muscles are smaller in older subjects, based on the intact neural drive to the muscle and the greater, less heterogeneous blood flow per gram of muscle, old fit muscle achieves adequate exercise hyperaemia.

dx.doi.org/10.1113/jphysiol.2013.264614, hdl.handle.net/1765/88605
Journal of Physiology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Rudroff, T, Weissman, J.A, Bucci, M, Seppänen, M, Kaskinoro, K, Heinonen, I.H.A, & Kalliokoski, K.K. (2014). Positron emission tomography detects greater blood flow and less blood flow heterogeneity in the exercising skeletal muscles of old compared with young men during fatiguing contractions. Journal of Physiology, 592(2), 337–349. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2013.264614