Document Detail

Stress failure of pulmonary capillaries as a limiting factor for maximal exercise.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  7768245     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
The pulmonary blood-gas barrier has a basic physiological dilemma. On the one hand it needs to be extremely thin for efficient gas exchange. On the other hand it also needs to be immensely strong because the stresses on the pulmonary capillary wall become extremely high when the capillary pressure rises on exercise. Maximal hydrostatic pressures in human pulmonary capillaries during exercise are not accurately known but must exceed 30 mmHg. In some animals, for example thoroughbred horses, the capillary pressure rises to about 100 mmHg. These pressures cause stresses in the capillary wall of 5-10 x 10(4) N.m-2 (50-100 kPa) which approach the breaking strength of collagen. The strength of the capillary wall on the thin side of the blood-gas barrier can be attributed to the type IV collagen of the extracellular matrix. Raising the capillary pressure to similar levels in experimental preparations causes ultrastructural changes in the wall including disruption of the capillary endothelium, alveolar epithelium, and basement membrane in the interstitium. Essentially all thoroughbred racehorses bleed into their lungs during exercise because they break their capillaries, and some elite human athletes apparently do the same. Avoiding stress failure of pulmonary capillaries poses a challenging problem for some species. Stress failure is a hitherto overlooked factor limiting maximal exercise.
J B West; O Mathieu-Costello
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology     Volume:  70     ISSN:  0301-5548     ISO Abbreviation:  Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol     Publication Date:  1995  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1995-07-06     Completed Date:  1995-07-06     Revised Date:  2008-11-21    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0410266     Medline TA:  Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol     Country:  GERMANY    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  99-108     Citation Subset:  IM; S    
Department of Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0623, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Blood Pressure / physiology
Capillaries / anatomy & histology,  physiology*
Exercise / physiology*
Pulmonary Circulation / physiology*
Stress, Physiological / physiopathology*
Grant Support

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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