Purdue University Graduate School
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posted on 2023-07-21, 18:52 authored by Michael David BelbisMichael David Belbis

Oxygen (O2) plays a crucial role in the energy metabolism of complex multicellular life on earth. Due to the small and finite energy stores in the body, fine-tuned changes within the body are required to meet metabolic demand during skeletal muscle contractions, such as during exercise and activities of daily living. The skeletal muscle microcirculation is one of the last steps in the O2 transport pathway from the lungs to muscle cells and represents the largest surface area for O2 and substrate exchange. When skeletal muscle O2 uptake increases during contractions to meet metabolic demand, there must be an increase in muscle O2 delivery. To achieve these elevations in O2 delivery, vessel (arteriole) diameter in the microcirculation is increased, known as vasodilation. This process in the skeletal muscle microcirculation is regulated by several factors, such as neurohumoral, mechanical, endothelial, paracrine, and metabolic influences, which are imperative in properly regulating O2 delivery at rest and during muscular contractions. Two vasodilatory pathways of interest in this dissertation are the cyclooxygenase (COX) and nitric oxide (NO) vasodilatory pathways.

The primary aim of my dissertation studies was to determine the mechanisms that modulate skeletal muscle oxygenation in health and to define the impact of a potentially effective intervention, whole-body chronic heat therapy (HT), to treat heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). In Chapter 2, we report that acute selective COX-2 inhibition had no effect on resting or exercising skeletal muscle microvascular oxygenation, pulmonary oxygen uptake, or exercise tolerance in healthy young humans. In Chapter 3, we report that NO, via phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibition, regulates myocyte O2 transport at rest and during recovery from muscle contractions in healthy young rats. In Chapter 4, we show that whole-body chronic HT promotes central and peripheral adaptations, which impact positively exercise tolerance in a pre-clinical rat model of HFpEF. Specifically, whole-body chronic HT had beneficial influences on exercise tolerance, skeletal muscle oxygenation from rest to contractions (driven, at least in part, by enhanced NO bioavailability), body composition, and cardiac function. Chapter 5 is a summary of the results and limitations of the projects presented in Chapters 2-4, with a brief discussion of potential future research directions. 


ACSM Foundation Doctoral Student Research Grant

APS EEP CANTROL Environmental Systems Predoctoral Research Award

Templin Graduate Student Research Award

Compton Graduate Travel Award

Ralph W. and Grace M. Showalter Research Trust

Laboratory and University Core Facility Research Equipment Program


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Health and Kinesiology

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Daniel M. Hirai

Additional Committee Member 2

Bruno T. Roseguini

Additional Committee Member 3

Timothy P. Gavin

Additional Committee Member 4

Shihuan Kuang