Resistance Training Increases Skeletal Muscle Capillarization in Healthy Older Men

Lex B. Verdijk*, Tim Snijders, Tanya M. Holloway, Janneau Van Kranenburg, Lucas van Loon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose Skeletal muscle capillarization plays a key role in oxygen and nutrient delivery to muscle. The loss of muscle mass with aging and the concept of anabolic resistance have been, at least partly, attributed to changes in skeletal muscle capillary structure and function. We aimed to compare skeletal muscle capillarization between young and older men and evaluate whether resistance-type exercise training increases muscle capillarization in older men. Methods Muscle biopsies were obtained from the vastus lateralis of healthy young (n = 14, 26 2 yr) and older (n = 16, 72 1 yr) adult men, with biopsies before and after 12 wk of resistance-type exercise training in the older subjects. Immunohistochemistry was used to assess skeletal muscle fiber size, capillary contacts (CC) per muscle fiber, and the capillary-to-fiber perimeter exchange (CFPE) index in type I and II muscle fibers. Results Type II muscle fibers were smaller in old versus young (4507 +/- 268 vs 6084 +/- 497 m(2), respectively, P = 0.007). Type I and type II muscle fiber CC and CFPE index were smaller in old compared with young muscle (CC type I: 3.8 +/- 0.2 vs 5.0 +/- 0.3; CC type II: 3.2 +/- 0.2 vs 4.2 +/- 0.2, respectively; both P <0.001). Resistance-type exercise training increased type II muscle fiber size only. In addition, CC and CFPE index increased in both the type I (26% +/- 9% and 27% +/- 8%) and type II muscle fibers (33% +/- 7% and 24% +/- 6%, respectively; all P 0.001) after 12 wk resistance training in older men. Conclusions We conclude that resistance-type exercise training can effectively augment skeletal muscle fiber capillarization in older men. The greater capillary supply may be an important prerequisite to reverse anabolic resistance and support muscle hypertrophy during lifestyle interventions aiming to support healthy aging.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2157-2164
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016



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