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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2006 Mar;100(3):1043-8. Epub 2005 Nov 10.

Determinants of skin sympathetic nerve responses to isometric exercise.

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  • 1Dept. of Medicine, Pennsylvania State Univ. College of Medicine, Hershey, PA, USA.


Exercise-induced increases in skin sympathetic nerve activity (SSNA) are similar between isometric handgrip (IHG) and leg extension (IKE) performed at 30% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). However, the precise effect of exercise intensity and level of fatigue on this relationship is unclear. This study tested the following hypotheses: 1) exercise intensity and fatigue level would not affect the magnitude of exercise-induced increase in SSNA between IHG and IKE, and 2) altering IHG muscle mass would also not affect the magnitude of exercise-induced increase in SSNA. In protocol 1, SSNA (peroneal microneurography) was measured during baseline and during the initial and last 30 s of isometric exercise to volitional fatigue in 12 subjects who randomly performed IHG and IKE bouts at 15, 30, and 45% MVC. In protocol 2, SSNA was measured in eight subjects who performed one-arm IHG at 30% MVC with the addition of IHG of the contralateral arm in 10-s intervals for 1 min. Exercise intensity significantly increased SSNA responses during the first 30 s of IHG (34+/-13, 70+/-11, and 92+/-13% change from baseline) and IKE (30+/-17, 69+/-12, and 76+/-13% change from baseline) for 15, 30, and 45% MVC. During the last 30 s of exercise to volitional fatigue, there were no significant differences in SSNA between exercise intensities or limb. SSNA did not significantly change between one-arm and two-arm IHG. Combined, these data indicate that exercise-induced increases in SSNA are intensity dependent in the initial portion of isometric exercise, but these differences are eliminated with the development of fatigue. Moreover, the magnitude of exercise-induced increase in SSNA responses is not dependent on either muscle mass involved or exercising limb.

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