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Exp Physiol. 2015 Mar;100(3):302-11. doi: 10.1113/expphysiol.2014.083857. Epub 2015 Feb 9.

Oscillatory blood pressure response to the onset of cycling exercise in men: role of group III/IV muscle afferents.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Fluminense Federal University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


What is the central question of this study? Neural feedback from group III/IV muscle afferents has a key role in regulation of cardiovascular responses to exercise. Blood pressure oscillates in the first seconds of dynamic exercise, but the contribution of muscle afferent feedback to this pattern is unclear. What is the main finding and its importance? We demonstrate that attenuation of group III/IV muscle afferent feedback by spinal fentanyl impairs the pressor response after 10 s of moderate leg cycling exercise, but this afferent feedback does not appear to be necessary for induction of the oscillatory pattern of blood pressure at the onset of exercise. We investigated whether attenuation of the central projections of group III/IV skeletal muscle afferents via lumbar intrathecal administration of the μ-opioid receptor agonist fentanyl affects the oscillatory blood pressure (BP) response to the onset of dynamic exercise. Eight healthy, recreationally active men (28 ± 3 years old) performed 40 s of cycling at 80 W (60 r.p.m.) before (control) and after fentanyl administration, while heart rate, stroke volume, cardiac output, systolic, mean and diastolic BP and total vascular conductance were continuously monitored. Sytolic and mean BP responses to cycling included an initial increase (from 0 to 3 s), followed by a transient decrease below resting levels (from 3 to 10 s) and then a sustained increase (>10 s). In the presence of fentanyl, systolic and mean BP responses closely matched those in control conditions in the first 10 s, but were blunted thereafter (P < 0.05). In contrast, fentanyl did not modify the heart rate, stroke volume, cardiac output, diastolic BP or total vascular conductance responses to 40 s of cycling (P > 0.05). These findings suggest that during moderate leg cycling exercise the muscle afferents contribute to the BP response after ∼10 s, but that they do not appear to be implicated in the oscillation of BP at the onset of exercise.

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