Preserved contribution of nitric oxide to baseline vascular tone in deconditioned human skeletal muscle

J Physiol. 2005 Jun 1;565(Pt 2):685-94. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2005.085936. Epub 2005 Mar 31.


Deconditioning is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Exercise reduces this risk, possibly by improving the vascular endothelial nitric oxide (NO) pathway. The effect of deconditioning on the NO pathway is largely unknown. This study was designed to assess baseline NO availability in the leg vascular bed after extreme, long-term deconditioning (spinal cord-injured individuals, SCI) as well as after moderate, short-term deconditioning (4 weeks of unilateral lower limb suspension, ULLS). For this purpose, seven SCI were compared with seven matched controls. Additionally, seven healthy subjects were studied pre- and post-ULLS. Leg blood flow was measured by venous occlusion plethysmography at baseline and during infusion of 5 incremental dosages of N(G)-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA) into the femoral artery. Sodium nitroprusside (SNP) was infused to test vascular responsiveness to NO. Baseline leg vascular resistance tended to be higher in SCI compared with controls (37+/-4 versus 31+/-2 arbitrary units (AU), P=0.06). Deconditioning altered neither the vasoconstrictor response to L-NMMA (increase in resistance in SCI versus controls: 102+/-33% versus 69+/-9%; pre- versus post-ULLS: 95+/-18% versus 119+/-15%), nor the vascular responsiveness to NO. In conclusion, two human in vivo models of deconditioning show a preserved baseline NO availability in the leg skeletal muscle vascular bed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Angiotensin II / administration & dosage
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Femoral Artery
  • Humans
  • Immobilization / adverse effects*
  • Leg
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide Donors / administration & dosage
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism
  • Nitroprusside / administration & dosage
  • Regional Blood Flow / drug effects
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / administration & dosage
  • omega-N-Methylarginine / administration & dosage


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Nitric Oxide Donors
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Angiotensin II
  • Nitroprusside
  • omega-N-Methylarginine
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase