Neural control of blood flow during exercise in human metabolic syndrome

Jacqueline K. Limberg, Barbara J. Morgan, Joshua J. Sebranek, Lester T. Proctor, Marlowe W. Eldridge, William G. Schrage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


α-Adrenergic-mediated vasoconstriction is greater during simulated exercise in animal models of metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) when compared with control animals. In an attempt to translate such findings to humans, we hypothesized that adults with MetSyn (n = 14, 35 ± 3 years old) would exhibit greater α-adrenergic responsiveness during exercise when compared with age-matched healthy control subjects (n = 16, 31 ± 3 years old). We measured muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA; microneurography) and forearm blood flow (Doppler ultrasound) during dynamic forearm exercise (15% of maximal voluntary contraction). α-Adrenergic agonists (phenylephrine and clonidine) and an antagonist (phentolamine) were infused intra-arterially to assess α-adrenergic receptor responsiveness and restraint, respectively. Resting MSNA was ∼35% higher in adults with MetSyn (P < 0.05), but did not change in either group with dynamic exercise. Clonidine-mediated vasoconstriction was greater in adults with MetSyn (P < 0.01). Group differences in vascular responses to phenylephrine and phentolamine were not detected (P > 0.05). Interestingly, exercise-mediated vasodilatation was greater in MetSyn (P < 0.05). Adults with MetSyn exhibit greater resting MSNA and clonidine-mediated vasoconstriction, yet preserved functional sympatholysis and higher exercise blood flow during low-intensity hand-grip exercise when compared with age-matched healthy control subjects. These results suggest that adults with MetSyn exhibit compensatory vascular control mechanisms capable of preserving blood flow responses to exercise in the face of augmented sympathetic adrenergic activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1191-1202
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental physiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)


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