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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2005 Nov;289(5):R1440-7. Epub 2005 Jul 28.

Hindlimb unloading and female gender attenuate baroreflex-mediated sympathoexcitation.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Missouri-Columbia, 134 Research Park Drive, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA.
U MO-Columbia


Exposure to a period of microgravity or bed rest produces several physiological adaptations. These changes, which include an increased incidence of orthostatic intolerance, have an impact when people return to a 1G environment or resume an upright posture. Compared with males, females appear more susceptible to orthostatic intolerance after exposure to real or simulated microgravity. Decreased arterial baroreflex compensation may contribute to orthostatic intolerance. We hypothesized that female rats would exhibit a greater reduction in arterial baroreflex function after hindlimb unloading (HU) compared with male rats. Mean arterial pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR), and renal sympathetic nerve activity (RSNA) were recorded in conscious animals after 13-15 days of HU. Baseline HR was elevated in female rats, and HU increased HR in both genders. Consistent with previous results in males, baroreflex-mediated activation of RSNA was blunted by HU in both genders. Maximum RSNA in response to decreases in MAP was reduced by HU (male control 513 +/- 42%, n = 11; male HU 346 +/- 38%, n = 13; female control 359 +/- 44%, n = 10; female HU 260 +/- 43%, n = 10). Maximum baroreflex increase in RSNA was lower in females compared with males in both control and HU rats. Both female gender and HU attenuated baroreflex-mediated increases in sympathetic activity. The combined effects of HU and gender resulted in reduced baroreflex sympathetic reserve in females compared with males and could contribute to the greater incidence of orthostatic intolerance in females after exposure to spaceflight or bed rest.

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