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Exp Physiol. 2012 Mar;97(3):375-85. doi: 10.1113/expphysiol.2011.062836. Epub 2011 Dec 16.

Heavy and moderate interval exercise training alters low-flow-mediated constriction but does not increase circulating progenitor cells in healthy humans.

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Multidisciplinary Cardiovascular Research Centre, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.

Erratum in

  • Exp Physiol. 2013 Jan;98(1):349.


Moderate-intensity endurance exercise training improves vascular endothelial vasomotor function; however, the impact of high-intensity exercise training has been equivocal. Thus, the effect of the physiological stress of the exercise remains poorly understood. Furthermore, enhanced vascular repair mediated by circulating progenitor cells may also be improved. To address whether the physiological stress of exercise training is an important factor contributing to these adaptations, 20 healthy participants trained for 6 weeks. Training involved either moderate (MSIT; n = 9) or heavy metabolic stress (HSIT; n = 11) interval exercise training programmes matched for total work and duration of exercise. Before and after training, flow-mediated dilatation, low-flow-mediated constriction and total vessel reactivity were measured at the brachial artery using Doppler ultrasound. Circulating progenitor cells (CD34(+), CD133(+) and CD309/KDR(+)) were measured by flow cytometry (means ± SD). Relative (MSIT pre- 5.5 ± 3.4 versus post-training 6.6 ± 2.5%; HSIT pre- 6.6 ± 4.1 versus post-training 7.0 ± 3.4%, P = 0.33) and normalized (P = 0.16) flow-mediated dilatation did not increase with either training programme. However, low-flow-mediated constriction was greater after training in both groups (MSIT pre- -0.5 ± 3.2 versus post-training -1.9 ± 3.1%; HSIT pre- -1.0 ± 1.7 versus post-training -2.9 ± 3.0%, P = 0.04) and contributed to greater total vessel reactivity (MSIT pre- 7.4 ± 3.3 versus post-training 10.1 ± 3.7%; HSIT pre- 10.9 ± 5.9 versus post-training 12.7 ± 6.2%, P = 0.01). Peak reactive hyperaemia and the area under the shear rate curve were not different between groups, either before or after training. Although circulating progenitor cell numbers increased following heavy-intensity interval exercise training, variability was great amongst participants [MSIT pre- 16 ± 18 versus post-training 14 ± 12 cells (ml whole blood)(-1); HSIT pre- 8 ± 6 versus post-training 19 ± 23 cells (ml whole blood)(-1), P = 0.50]. Overall, vasoconstrictor function may be augmented by moderate- and heavy-intensity interval exercise training in young adults. However, circulating progenitor cell numbers were not increased, suggesting that these cells are not likely to be upregulated as a result of training.

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