Intercostal muscles oxygenation and breathing pattern during exercise in competitive marathon runners

Felipe Contreras-Briceño*, Maximiliano Espinosa-Ramírez, Eduardo Moya-Gallardo, Rodrigo Fuentes-Kloss, Luigi Gabrielli, Oscar F. Araneda, Ginés Viscor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The study aimed to evaluate the association between the changes in ventilatory variables (tidal volume (Vt), respiratory rate (RR) and lung ventilation (.VE)) and deoxygenation of m.intescostales (∆SmO2-m.intercostales) during a maximal incremental exercise in 19 male high-level competitive marathon runners. The ventilatory variables and oxygen consumption (.VO2 ) were recorded breath-by-breath by exhaled gas analysis. A near-infrared spectroscopy device (MOXY®) located in the right-hemithorax allowed the recording of SmO2-m.intercostales. To explore changes in oxygen levels in muscles with high demand during exercise, a second MOXY® records SmO2-m.vastus laterallis. The triphasic model of exercise intensity was used for evaluating changes in SmO2 in both muscle groups. We found that ∆SmO2-m.intercostales correlated with.VO2-peak (r = 0.65; p = 0.002) and the increase of.VE (r = 0.78; p = 0.001), RR (r = 0.54; p = 0.001), but not Vt (p = 0.210). The interaction of factors (muscles × exercise-phases) in SmO2 expressed as an arbitrary unit (a.u) was significant (p = 0.005). At VT1 there was no difference (p = 0.177), but SmO2-m.intercostales was higher at VT2 (p < 0.001) and.VO2-peak (p < 0.001). In high-level competitive marathon runners, the m.intercostales deoxygenation during incremental exercise is directly associated with the aerobic capacity and increased lung ventilation and respiratory rate, but not tidal volume. Moreover, it shows less deoxygenation than m.vastus laterallis at intensities above the aerobic ventilatory threshold.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8287
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Exercise Test
  • Humans
  • Intercostal Muscles
  • Lung
  • Male
  • Marathon Running
  • Muscle, Skeletal/metabolism
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Respiration


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