Effect of systemic nitric oxide synthase inhibition on postexercise hypotension in humans

J. R. Halliwlll, C. T. Minson, M. J. Joyner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


An acute bout of aerobic exercise results in a reduced blood pressure that lasts several hours. Animal studies suggest this response is mediated by increased production of nitric oxide. We tested the extent to which systemic nitric oxide synthase inhibition [N(G)-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA)] can reverse the drop in blood pressure that occurs after exercise in humans. Eight healthy subjects underwent parallel experiments on 2 separate days. The order of the experiments was randomized between sham (60 min of seated upright rest) and exercise (60 min of upright cycling at 60% peak aerobic capacity). After both sham and exercise, subjects received, in sequence, systemic α-adrenergic blockade (phentolamine) and L-NMMA. Phentolamine was given first to isolate the contribution of nitric oxide to postexercise hypotension by preventing reflex changes in sympathetic tone that result from systemic nitric oxide synthase inhibition and to control for alterations in resting sympathetic activity after exercise. During each condition, systemic and regional hemodynamics were measured. Throughout the study, arterial pressure and Vascular resistances remained lower postexercise vs. postsham despite nitric oxide synthase inhibition (e.g., mean arterial pressure after L-NMMA was 108.0 ± 2.4 mmHg postsham vs. 102.1 ± 3.3 mmHg postexercise; P < 0.05). Thus it does not appear that postexercise hypotension is dependent on increased production of nitric oxide in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1830-1836
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000


  • Blood pressure
  • Exercise
  • Sympathetic nervous system
  • Vascular resistance
  • Vasodilator agents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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