In vivo assessment of muscle mitochondrial function in healthy, young males in relation to parameters of aerobic fitness

Bart Lagerwaard, Jaap Keijer, Kevin K. McCully, Vincent C.J. de Boer, Arie G. Nieuwenhuizen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The recovery of muscle oxygen consumption (mV˙ O2) after exercise provides a measure of skeletal muscle mitochondrial capacity, as more and better-functioning mitochondria will be able to restore mV˙ O2 faster to the pre-exercise state. The aim was to measure muscle mitochondrial capacity using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) within a healthy, normally active population and relate this to parameters of aerobic fitness, investigating the applicability and relevance of using NIRS to assess muscle mitochondrial capacity non-invasively. Methods: Mitochondrial capacity was analysed in the gastrocnemius and flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) muscles of eight relatively high-aerobic fitness (V˙ O2peak ≥ 57 mL/kg/min) and eight relatively low-aerobic fitness male subjects (V˙ O2peak ≤ 47 mL/kg/min). Recovery of whole body V˙ O2, i.e. excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) was analysed after a cycling protocol. Results: Mitochondrial capacity, as analysed using NIRS, was significantly higher in high-fitness individuals compared to low-fitness individuals in the gastrocnemius, but not in the FDS (p = 0.0036 and p = 0.20, respectively). Mitochondrial capacity in the gastrocnemius was significantly correlated with V˙ O2peak (R2 = 0.57, p = 0.0019). Whole body V˙ O2 recovery was significantly faster in the high-fitness individuals (p = 0.0048), and correlated significantly with mitochondrial capacity in the gastrocnemius (R2 = 0.34, p = 0.028). Conclusion: NIRS measurements can be used to assess differences in mitochondrial muscle oxygen consumption within a relatively normal, healthy population. Furthermore, mitochondrial capacity correlated with parameters of aerobic fitness (V˙ O2peak and EPOC), emphasising the physiological relevance of the NIRS measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1799-1808
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number8
Early online date8 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


  • EPOC
  • Mitochondrial capacity
  • Muscle mitochondria
  • NIRS
  • Oxidative metabolism


Dive into the research topics of 'In vivo assessment of muscle mitochondrial function in healthy, young males in relation to parameters of aerobic fitness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this