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Life Sci. 2001 Jul 20;69(9):1005-16.

Effects of exercise training of 8 weeks and detraining on plasma levels of endothelium-derived factors, endothelin-1 and nitric oxide, in healthy young humans.

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Institute of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


Vascular endothelial cells produce nitric oxide (NO), which is a potent vasodilator substance and has been proposed as having antiatherosclerotic property. Vascular endothelial cells also produce endothelin-1 (ET-1), which is a potent vasoconstrictor peptide and has potent proliferating activity on vascular smooth muscle cells. Therefore, ET-1 has been implicated in the progression of atheromatous vascular disease. Because exercise training has been reported to produce an alteration in the function of vascular endothelial cells in animals, we hypothesized that exercise training influences the production of NO and ET-1 in humans. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether chronic exercise could influence the plasma levels of NO (measured as the stable end product of NO, i.e., nitrite/nitrate [NOx]) and ET-1 in humans. Eight healthy young subjects (20.3 +/- 0.5 yr old) participated in the study and exercised by cycling on a leg ergometer (70% VO2max for 1 hour, 3-4 days/week) for 8 weeks. Venous plasma concentrations of NOx and ET-1 were measured before and after (immediately before the end of 8-week exercise training) the exercise training, and also after the 4th and 8th week after the cessation of training. The VO2max significantly increased after exercise training. After the exercise training, the plasma concentration of NOx significantly increased (30.69 +/- 3.20 vs. 48.64 +/- 8.16 micromol/L, p < 0.05), and the plasma concentration of ET-1 significantly decreased (1.65 +/- 0.14 vs. 1.23 +/- 0.12 pg/mL, p < 0.05). The increase in NOx level and the decrease in ET-1 level lasted to the 4th week after the cessation of exercise training and these levels (levels of NOx and ET-1) returned to the basal levels (the levels before the exercise training) in the 8th week after the cessation of exercise training. There was a significant negative correlation between plasma NOx concentration and plasma ET-1 concentration. The present study suggests that chronic exercise causes an increase in production of NO and a decrease in production of ET-1 in humans, which may produce beneficial effects (i.e., vasodilative and antiatherosclerotic) on the cardiovascular system.

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