Contracting human skeletal muscle maintains the ability to blunt α1-adrenergic vasoconstriction during KIR channel and Na+/K+-ATPase inhibition

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Abstract

Sympathetic vasoconstriction in contracting skeletal muscle is blunted relative to that which occurs in resting tissue; however, the mechanisms underlying this ‘functional sympatholysis’ remain unclear in humans. We tested the hypothesis that α1-adrenergic vasoconstriction is augmented during exercise following inhibition of inwardly rectifying potassium (KIR) channels and Na+/K+-ATPase (BaCl2 + ouabain). In young healthy humans, we measured forearm blood flow (Doppler ultrasound) and calculated forearm vascular conductance (FVC) at rest, during steady-state stimulus conditions (pre-phenylephrine), and after 2 min of phenylephrine (PE; an α1-adrenoceptor agonist) infusion via brachial artery catheter in response to two different stimuli: moderate (15% maximal voluntary contraction) rhythmic handgrip exercise or adenosine infusion. In Protocol 1 (n = 11 subjects) a total of six trials were performed in three conditions: control (saline), combined enzymatic inhibition of nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandin (PG) synthesis (L-NMMA + ketorolac) and combined inhibition of NO, PGs, KIR channels and Na+/K+-ATPase (L-NMMA + ketorolac + BaCl2 + ouabain). In Protocol 2 (n = 6) a total of four trials were performed in two conditions: control (saline), and combined KIR channel and Na+/K+-ATPase inhibition. All trials occurred after local β-adrenoceptor blockade (propranolol). PE-mediated vasoconstriction was calculated (%ΔFVC) in each condition. Contrary to our hypothesis, despite attenuated exercise hyperaemia of ˜30%, inhibition of KIR channels and Na+/K+-ATPase, combined with inhibition of NO and PGs (Protocol 1) or alone (Protocol 2) did not enhance α1-mediated vasoconstriction during exercise (Protocol 1: −27 ± 3%; P = 0.2 vs. control, P = 0.4 vs. L-NMMA + ketorolac; Protocol 2: −21 ± 7%; P = 0.9 vs. control). Thus, contracting human skeletal muscle maintains the ability to blunt α1-adrenergic vasoconstriction during combined KIR channel and Na+/K+-ATPase inhibition.

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