Neurovascular Proximity in the Diaphragm Muscle of Adult Mice

Diego Correa, Steven S. Segal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: Regional blood flow to the diaphragm muscle varies with the workload of inspiration. To provide anatomical insight into coupling between muscle fiber recruitment and oxygen supply, we tested whether arterioles are physically associated with motor nerve branches of the diaphragm. Methods: Following vascular casting, intact diaphragm muscles of C57BL/6 and CD-1 mice were stained for motor innervation. Arteriolar networks and nerve networks were mapped (~2μm resolution) to evaluate their physical proximity. Results: Neurovascular proximity was similar between muscle regions and mouse strains. Of total mapped nerve lengths (C57BL/6, 70±15mm; CD-1, 87±13mm), 80±14% and 67±10% were ≤250μm from the nearest arteriole and associated predominantly with arterioles ≤45μm in diameter. Distances to the nearest arteriole encompassing 50% of total nerve length (D50) were consistently within 200μm. With nerve networks repositioned randomly within muscle borders, D50 values nearly doubled (p<0.05). Reference lines within anatomical boundaries reduced proximity to arterioles (p<0.05) as they deviated from the original location of motor nerves. Conclusion: Across two strains of mice, motor nerves and arterioles of the diaphragm muscle are more closely associated than can be explained by chance. We hypothesize that neurovascular proximity facilitates local perfusion upon muscle fiber recruitment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-315
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Breathing
  • Microcirculation
  • Muscle blood flow
  • Phrenic nerve
  • Proximity analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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