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Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2010 Aug;199(4):349-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-1716.2010.02129.x. Epub 2010 Mar 26.

Control of muscle blood flow during exercise: local factors and integrative mechanisms.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA.


Understanding the control mechanisms of blood flow within the vasculature of skeletal muscle is clearly fascinating from a theoretical point of view due to the extremely tight coupling of tissue oxygen demands and blood flow. It also has practical implications as impairment of muscle blood flow and its prevention/reversal by exercise training has a major impact on widespread diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. Here we analyse the role of mediators generated by skeletal muscle activity on smooth muscle relaxation in resistance vessels in vitro and in vivo. We summarize their cellular mechanisms of action and their relative roles in exercise hyperaemia with regard to early and late responses. We also discuss the consequences of interactions among mediators with regard to identifying their functional significance. We focus on (potential) mechanisms integrating the action of the mediators and their effects among the cells of the intact arteriolar wall. This integration occurs both locally, partly due to myoendothelial communication, and axially along the vascular tree, thus enabling the local responses to be manifest along an entire functional vessel path. Though the concept of signal integration is intriguing, its specific role on the control of exercise hyperaemia and the consequences of its modulation under physiological and pathophysiological conditions still await additional analysis.

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