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Exp Physiol. 2011 Aug;96(8):718-35. doi: 10.1113/expphysiol.2011.058768. Epub 2011 May 20.

α-Adrenergic effects on low-frequency oscillations in blood pressure and R-R intervals during sympathetic activation.

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  • 1Department of Exercise and Medical Physiology, Verve Research, Oulu, Finland.


The present study was designed to address the contribution of α-adrenergic modulation to the genesis of low-frequency (LF; 0.04-0.15 Hz) oscillations in R-R interval (RRi), blood pressure (BP) and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) during different sympathetic stimuli. Blood pressure and RRi were measured continuously in 12 healthy subjects during 5 min periods each of lower body negative pressure (LBNP; -40 mmHg), static handgrip exercise (HG; 20% of maximal force) and postexercise forearm circulatory occlusion (PECO) with and without α-adrenergic blockade by phentolamine. Muscle sympathetic nerve activity was recorded in five subjects during LBNP and in six subjects during HG and PECO. Low-frequency powers and median frequencies of BP, RRi and MSNA were calculated from power spectra. Low-frequency power during LBNP was lower with phentolamine versus without for both BP and RRi oscillations (1.6 ± 0.6 versus 1.2 ± 0.7 ln mmHg(2), P = 0.049; and 6.9 ± 0.8 versus 5.4 ± 0.9 ln ms(2), P = 0.001, respectively). In contrast, the LBNP with phentolamine increased the power of high-frequency oscillations (0.15-0.4 Hz) in BP and MSNA (P < 0.01 for both), which was not observed during saline infusion. Phentolamine also blunted the increases in the LBNP-induced increase in frequency of LF oscillations in BP and RRi. Phentolamine decreased the LF power of RRi during HG (P = 0.015) but induced no other changes in LF powers or frequencies during HG. Phentolamine resulted in decreased frequency of LF oscillations in RRi (P = 0.004) during PECO, and a similar tendency was observed in BP and MSNA. The power of LF oscillation in MSNA did not change during any intervention. We conclude that α-adrenergic modulation contributes to LF oscillations in BP and RRi during baroreceptor unloading (LBNP) but not during static exercise. Also, α-adrenergic modulation partly explains the shift to a higher frequency of LF oscillations during baroreceptor unloading and muscle metaboreflex activation.

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