Intermittent claudication (IC) is the most commonly reported symptom of peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Impaired limb blood flow is a major casual factor of lower exercise tolerance in PAD but cannot entirely explain it. We hypothesized that IC is associated with structural changes of the capillary-mitochondria interface that could contribute to the reduction of exercise tolerance in IC patients. Capillary and mitochondrial morphometry were performed after light and transmission electron microscopy using vastus lateralis muscle biopsies of 14 IC patients and 10 age-matched controls, and peak power output (PPO) was determined for all participants using an incremental single-leg knee-extension protocol. Capillary density was lower (411 ± 90 mm−2 vs. 506 ± 95 mm−2; P ≤ 0.05) in the biopsies of the IC patients than in those of the controls. The basement membrane (BM) around capillaries was thicker (543 ± 82 nm vs. 423 ± 97 nm; P ≤ 0.01) and the volume density of mitochondria was lower (3.51 ± 0.56% vs. 4.60 ± 0.74%; P ≤ 0.01) in the IC patients than the controls. In the IC patients, a higher proportion of capillaries appeared with collapsed slit-like lumen and/or swollen endothelium. PPO was lower (18.5 ± 9.9 W vs. 33.5 ± 9.4 W; P ≤ 0.01) in the IC patients than the controls. We suggest that several structural alterations in skeletal muscle, either collectively or separately, contribute to the reduction of exercise tolerance in IC patients.
- peripheral arterial disease
- skeletal muscle
- transmission electron microscopy
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society
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