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Am J Physiol. 1989 Jan;256(1 Pt 1):E12-8.

Adipose tissue and skeletal muscle blood flow during mental stress.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Physiology, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge University Hospital, Sweden.


Mental stress [a modified Stroop color word conflict test (CWT)] increased adipose tissue blood flow (ATBF; 133Xe clearance) by 70% and reduced adipose tissue vascular resistance (ATR) by 25% in healthy male volunteers. The vasculatures of adipose tissue (abdomen as well as thigh), skeletal muscle of the calf (133Xe clearance), and the entire calf (venous occlusion plethysmography) responded similarly. Arterial epinephrine (Epi) and glycerol levels were approximately doubled by stress. beta-Blockade by metoprolol (beta 1-selective) or propranolol (nonselective) attenuated CWT-induced tachycardia similarly. Metoprolol attenuated stress-induced vasodilation in the calf and tended to do so in adipose tissue. Propranolol abolished vasodilation in the calf and resulted in vasoconstriction during CWT in adipose tissue. Decreases in ATR, but not in skeletal muscle or calf vascular resistances, were correlated to increases in arterial plasma glycerol (r = -0.42, P less than 0.05), whereas decreases in skeletal muscle and calf vascular resistances, but not in ATR, were correlated to increases in arterial Epi levels (r = -0.69, P less than 0.01; and r = -0.43, P less than 0.05, respectively). The results suggest that mental stress increases nutritive blood flow in adipose tissue and skeletal muscle considerably, both through the elevation of perfusion pressure and via vasodilatation. Withdrawal of vasoconstrictor nerve activity, vascular beta 2-adrenoceptor stimulation by circulating Epi, and metabolic mechanisms (in adipose tissue) may contribute to the vasodilatation.

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