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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 Feb;112(2):699-709. doi: 10.1007/s00421-011-2025-x. Epub 2011 Jun 9.

Effect of obesity and metabolic syndrome on hypoxic vasodilation.

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  • 1Department of Kinesiology, School of Education, University of Wisconsin, 1149 Natatorium, Madison, WI 53706, USA. limberg@wisc.edu


This study was designed to test whether obese adults and adults with metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) exhibit altered hyperemic responses to hypoxia at rest and during forearm exercise when compared with lean controls. We hypothesized blood flow responses due to hypoxia would be lower in young obese subjects (n = 11, 24 ± 2 years, BMI 36 ± 2 kg m(-2)) and subjects with MetSyn (n = 8, 29 ± 3 years BMI 39 ± 2 kg m(-2)) when compared with lean adults (n = 13, 29 ± 2 years, BMI 24 ± 1 kg m(-2)). We measured forearm blood flow (FBF, Doppler Ultrasound) and arterial oxygen saturation (pulse oximetry) during rest and steady-state dynamic forearm exercise (20 contractions/min at 8 and 12 kg) under two conditions: normoxia (0.21 F(i)O(2), ~98% S(a)O(2)) and hypoxia (~0.10 F(i)O(2), 80% S(a)O(2)). Forearm vascular conductance (FVC) was calculated as FBF/mean arterial blood pressure. At rest, the percent change in FVC with hypoxia was greater in adults with MetSyn when compared with lean controls (p = 0.02); obese and lean adult responses were not statistically different. Exercise increased FVC from resting levels in all groups (p < 0.05). Hypoxia caused an additional increase in FVC (p < 0.05) that was not different between groups; responses to hypoxia were heterogeneous within and between groups. Reporting FVC responses as absolute or percent changes led to similar conclusions. These results suggest adults with MetSyn exhibit enhanced hypoxic vasodilation at rest. However, hypoxic responses during exercise in obese adults and adults with MetSyn were not statistically different when compared with lean adults. Individual hypoxic vasodilatory responses were variable, suggesting diversity in vascular control.

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