Thirty minutes of handgrip exercise enhances brachial artery flow-mediated dilation in response to two different shear stress profiles.
McPhee, Iain Alan Charles
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The walls of blood vessels are lined with a single-cell layer of endothelial cells. As blood flows through the arteries, a frictional force known as shear stress is sensed by mechanosensitive structures on the endothelium. Short and long term changes in shear stress can have a significant influence on the regulation of endothelial function. Acutely, shear stress triggers a pathway that culminates in the release of vasodilatory molecules from the endothelium and subsequent vasodilation of the artery. This endothelial response is known as flow mediated dilation (FMD). FMD is used as an index of endothelial function and is commonly assessed using reactive hyperemia (RH)-FMD, a method which elicits a large, short lived increase in shear stress following the release of a brief (5 min) forearm occlusion. A recent study found that a short term exposure (30 min) to a sustained elevation in shear stress potentiates subsequent RH-FMD. FMD can also result from a more prolonged, sustained increase in shear stress elicited by handgrip exercise (HGEX-FMD). There is evidence to suggest that interventions and conditions impact FMD resulting from sustained and transient shear stress stimuli differently, indicating that HGEX-FMD and RH-FMD provide different information about endothelial function. It is unknown whether HGEX-FMD is improved by short term exposure to shear stress. Understanding how exercise induced FMD is regulated is important because it contributes to blood flow responses during exercise. The study purpose was therefore to assess the impact of a handgrip exercise (intervention) induced sustained elevation in shear stress on subsequent brachial artery (BA) HGEX-FMD. Twenty healthy male participants (22±3yrs) preformed a 30-minute HGEX intervention on two experimental days. BA-FMD was assessed using either an RH or HGEX shear stress stimulus at 3 time points: pre-intervention, 10 min post and 60 min post. FMD and shear stress magnitude were determined via ultrasound. Both HGEX and RH-FMD increased significantly from pre-intervention to 10 min-post (p<0.01). These findings indicate that FMD stimulated by exercise induced increases in shear stress is potentiated by short term shear stress exposure. These findings advance our understanding regarding the regulation of endothelial function by shear stress.