The purpose of this study was to examine whether a single biopsy sample of vastus lateralis could provide an accurate estimate of capillary density (CD) which is indicative of the entire muscle, or whether capillary density is distributed unevenly and varies with muscle depth. Whole muscle cross sections of vastus lateralis were excised post mortem (n=11) for analysis of capillary density at three muscle depths, (superficial, mid and deep regions). Muscle thickness varied widely (17–79mm) across subjects. The distribution of CD throughout the depth of the muscle was homogeneous in 8 subjects, but in 3 subjects it was heterogeneous (p<0.05). In 3 of these subjects there was a significant (p<0.05) effect of sample depth on CD. These data indicate that tissue from a single biopsy will not adequately represent the CD of the entire vastus lateralis in some individuals. Single biopsies from unspecified muscle depth, have routinely been used to estimate CD and fibre type in vastus lateralis. The present study indicates that a more reliable method of analysis would be to use the tissue from two needle biopsies taken at the superficial and deep portions of the muscle from a group of at least 10 subjects. Sampling theory analysis supported this conclusion.
Field of Research
110602 Exercise Physiology
Socio Economic Objective
970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences
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