Effects of aging and exercise training on structural and vasoconstrictor properties of skeletal muscle arterioles



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Texas A&M University


Aging is associated with increases in regional and systemic vascular resistance and arterial blood pressure. One possible mechanism through which these age-associated alterations occur is enhanced vasoconstrictor responsiveness, or alterations in the structural properties of the resistance vasculature. We hypothesized that stiffness and vasoconstriction would be greater in skeletal muscle arterioles from old rats, and that endurance exercise training would ameliorate the associated with aging alterations. METHODS: Young sedentary (YS; 4 months), old sedentary (OS; 24 months), young trained (YT) and old trained (OT) male Fischer 344 rats were used. Training modality was treadmill exercise at 15 m/min up a 15o incline, 5 days/wk for 12wks. Skeletal muscle first-order arterioles were isolated for in vitro experimentation. Intraluminal diameter was measured in response to the cumulative addition of endothelin-1, norepinephrine, KCl, and isoproterenol. Stiffness was measure by examining the arterioles' stress and strain relation to increased luminal pressure in Ca++ free solution. RESULTS: Skeletal muscle arterioles had augmented vasoconstriction to endothelin-1 and norepinephrine. Adrenergic vasodilation was diminished in aged rat arterioles. Stiffness increased with age. Exercise training ameliorated the age-associated changes in stiffness and norepinephrine vasoconstriction. Exercise training did not alter endothelin-1 vasoconstriction or adrenergic vasodilation. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that enhanced vascular sensitivity to vasoconstrictors and increased arteriole stiffness may play a role in the increase in skeletal muscle and systemic vascular resistance and, thus, contribute to the elevated blood pressure which occurs in aging humans. These results also demonstrate some of the cardioprotective effects of exercise training.