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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2018 Sep 1;125(3):812-819. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00161.2018. Epub 2018 Apr 19.

High-intensity muscle metaboreflex activation attenuates cardiopulmonary baroreflex-mediated inhibition of muscle sympathetic nerve activity.

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Department of Kinesiology, University of Texas at Arlington , Arlington, Texas.
Research Center of Health, Physical Fitness and Sports, Nagoya University , Nagoya , Japan.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Toyo University, Kawagoe, Japan.


Previous studies have shown that muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) is reduced during low- and mild-intensity dynamic leg exercise. It has been suggested that such inhibition is mediated by loading of the cardiopulmonary baroreceptors and that this effect is overridden by muscle metaboreflex activation with higher-intensity exercise. However, limited data are available regarding the interaction between the cardiopulmonary baroreflex and the muscle metaboreflex. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that cardiopulmonary baroreflex-mediated inhibition of MSNA is attenuated during high-intensity muscle metaboreflex activation. In nine young men, MSNA (right peroneal nerve), mean arterial pressure (MAP), and thoracic impedance were recorded. Graded isolation of muscle metaboreflex activation was achieved via postexercise ischemia (PEI) following low (PEI-L)-, moderate (PEI-M)-, and high (PEI-H)-intensity isometric handgrip performed at 20, 30, and 40% maximum voluntary contraction, respectively. Lower-body positive pressure (LBPP, +10 Torr) was applied at rest and during PEI, to load the cardiopulmonary baroreceptors. Handgrip exercise elicited intensity-dependent increases in MSNA and MAP that were maintained during PEI, indicating a graded muscle metaboreflex activation. LBPP at rest significantly decreased MSNA burst frequency (BF: -36.7 ± 4.7%, mean ± SE, P < 0.05), whereas MAP was unchanged. When LBPP was applied during PEI, MSNA BF decreased significantly at PEI-L (-40.0 ± 9.2%, P < 0.05) and PEI-M (-27.0 ± 6.3%, P < 0.05), but not at PEI-H (+1.9 ± 7.1%, P > 0.05). These results suggest that low- and moderate-intensity muscle metaboreflex activation does not modulate the inhibition of MSNA by cardiopulmonary baroreceptor loading, whereas high-intensity metaboreflex activation can override cardiopulmonary baroreflex-mediated inhibition of sympathetic vasomotor outflow. NEW & NOTEWORTHY The interaction between the sympathoinhibitory influence of cardiopulmonary baroreflex and sympathoexcitatory effect of skeletal muscle metaboreflex is not completely understood. In the current study, light- to moderate-intensity muscle metaboreflex activation did not modulate the suppression of muscle sympathetic nerve activity by cardiopulmonary baroreceptor loading, whereas high-intensity muscle metaboreflex activation attenuated the cardiopulmonary baroreflex-mediated inhibition of muscle sympathetic nerve activity. These results provide important information concerning the neural reflex mechanisms regulating sympathetic vasomotor outflow during exercise.


MSNA; dynamic exercise; isometric handgrip; lower-body positive pressure; postexercise ischemia

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