Sympathetic neural adaptations to exercise training in humans: insights from microneurography

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Sympathetic nerve activity has long been regarded as an important regulator of blood flow and blood pressure. Its importance has been especially recognized during exercise. The present review examines sympathetic neural adaptations to exercise training in humans obtained by sympathetic nerve recordings to nonactive skeletal muscle. Little evidence exists from both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies indicating that training alters resting muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA). However, MSNA responses during exercise appear to be attenuated after training. This attenuation of MSNA seems to be specific to the trained muscle and not generalizable to other muscle groups. The mechanisms for the decrease in exercise-induced MSNA have been attributed to changes in both the muscle metaboreflex and muscle mechanoreflex. In addition to exercise, training has generally not altered MSNA responses to other stressors such as cold pressor test, lower body negative pressure, and upright tilting. However, the effect of training on baroreflex control of MSNA is equivocal. These conclusions are based on few studies. More comprehensive training studies are needed to better understand the role of training on sympathetic neural outflow.

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