Oxygen and acid-base status during exercise is well established for the lungs, large arteries and veins. However, values for these parameters in exercising muscle are less frequently reported. In this study we examined the relationship between intramuscular PO(2), pH, PCO(2) and the comparable venous values during rhythmic isometric handgrip exercise at target levels of 15%, 30% and 45% of maximum voluntary contraction (MVC). A small fiber optic sensor was inserted into the flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) muscle for continuous measurement of intramuscular (IM) PO(2), pH and PCO(2). Venous blood samples were taken from the forearm every minute during each exercise bout. IM pH and PCO(2) were similar to their venous counterparts at baseline, but the difference between IM and venous values increased when exercise exceeded 30% MVC. During exercise at 15% MVC and greater, venous PO(2) declined from 40 to 21 Torr (approximately 5.3 to 2.8 kPa). IM PO(2) declined from 24 to 8 Torr with 15% MVC, and approached 0 Torr at 30% MVC and 45% MVC. IM pH declined rapidly when IM PO(2) reached 10 Torr and continued to decrease with increasing exertion, despite an IM PO(2) near 0 Torr.
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