Effect of Hindlimb Unweighting on Tissue Blood Flow in the Rat

Document Type




Format of Original

9 p.

Publication Date



American Physiological Society

Source Publication

Journal of Applied Physiology

Source ISSN



The purpose of this study was to characterize the distribution of blood flow in the rat during hindlimb unweighting (HU) and post-HU standing and exercise and examine whether the previously reported (Witzmann et al., J. Appl. Physiol. 54: 1242–1248, 1983) elevation in anaerobic metabolism observed with contractile activity in the atrophied soleus muscle was caused by a reduced hindlimb blood flow. After either 15 days of HU or cage control, blood flow was measured with radioactive microspheres during unweighting, normal standing, and running on a treadmill (15 m/min). In another group of control and experimental animals, blood flow was measured during preexercise (PE) treadmill standing and treadmill running (15 m/min). Soleus muscle blood flow was not different between groups during unweighting, PE standing, and running at 15 m/min. Chronic unweighting resulted in the tendency for greater blood flow to muscles composed of predominantly fast-twitch glycolytic fibers. With exercise, blood flow to visceral organs was reduced compared with PE values in the control rats, whereas flow to visceral organs in 15-day HU animals was unaltered by exercise. These higher flows to the viscera and to muscles composed of predominantly fast-twitch glycolytic fibers suggest an apparent reduction in the ability of the sympathetic nervous system to distribute cardiac output after chronic HU. In conclusion, because 15 days of HU did not affect blood flow to the soleus during exercise, the increased dependence of the atrophied soleus on anerobic energy production during contractile activity cannot be explained by a reduced muscle blood flow.


Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol. 76, No. 6 (June 1992): 2210-2218. Permalink.