The efficiency of the vascular-tissue system for oxygen (O2) transport in the skeletal muscle was estimated by using Krogh's cylinder model for the capillary-tissue arrangement. The tissue mass supplied by a single capillary was calculated as the region of positive O2 tension. For given values of total muscle flow and tissue O2 consumption rate, total tissue mass was determined as the function of the capillary number (n). The energy cost to maintain the vascular system with n terminals (capillaries) was assessed by the minimum volume model by Kamiya and Togawa (1972). The efficiency of the entire system was evaluated by calculating the ratio of (total tissue mass) or (total O2 consumption)/(the energy cost). The results of the calculation using physiological data of muscle blood flow and O2 consumption rate in man during exercise revealed the optimum capillary number to be around 1.5 × 1010 and the Krogh cylinder radius to be 26 μm, which agrees well with the morphological data of these values in human skeletal muscles. It was concluded that the vascular-tissue system in the skeletal muscle is constructed so as to attain the highest efficiency in O2 transport to tissue during exercise.
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