The present experiments were undertaken to confirm whether the increase in haematocrit that consistently accompanies the build-up of lactate in amphibian muscle cells during exercise can be explained in terms of a movement of water from the blood into the active muscles.
Electrically stimulated sartorius and gastrocnemius muscles isolated from Rana ridibunda and Xenopus laevis had consistently higher total water contents than their paired control muscles. In both instances, it was the intracellular water volume which gave rise to the increase in total muscle water. These results were corroborated in vivo by sampling gastrocnemius muscles from exercising and resting Xenopus laevis. Analyses of tissue electrolyte levels in the working muscles of each experimental series showed an increase in intracellular [lactate−] and [Na+]. A corresponding decline in cellular [K+] occurred in concert with increases in extracellular [K+.
In saline-perfused gastrocnemii of Xenopus, the uptake of vascular water was proportional to the total mechanical work performed. Saline leaving the femoral vein of isotonically contracting gastrocnemius muscles had a greater osmotic pressure than that of the arterial perfusate, whereas arterio-venous osmolality differences of control muscles were negligible. Calculations show that the haemoconcentration during exercise in vivo can be attributed at least in part to a net flow of plasma water to osmotically enriched muscle cells.