Skeletal muscle is highly vascularized, with perfusion being tightly regulated to meet wide-ranging metabolic demands. For decades, the capillary supply has been explored mainly in terms of evaluating the capillary numbers and their function in the supply of oxygen and substrates and the removal of metabolic byproducts. This review will focus on recent discoveries concerning the role played by capillaries in facilitating other aspects of cell regulation and maintenance, in health and disease, as well as alterations during the aging process.
Novelty Capillaries play a central role in the coordination of the vascular response that controls blood flow during contraction and the cellular responses to which they feed into. Nitric oxide is an important regulatory compound within the cardiovascular system, and a significant contributor to skeletal muscle capillary angiogenesis and vasodilatory response to agonists. The microvascular network between muscle fibres may play a critical role in the distribution of signalling factors necessary for optimal muscle satellite cell function.