Altitude negates the benefits of aerobic training on the vascular adaptations in rats

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 Jun;37(6):979-85.


Introduction: This study questioned the effect of living and training at moderate altitude on aortic vasoreactivity. Considering that chronic hypoxia exposure and endurance training are able to generate opposite effects on the systemic vascular reactivity, it was hypothesized that endurance training benefits on the vascular function could be limited by chronic hypoxia.

Methods: Sea-level native rats were randomly assigned to N (living in normoxia), NT (living and training 5 d.wk for 5 wk in normoxia), CH (living in hypoxia, 2800 m), and CHT (living and training 5 d.wk for 5 wk in hypoxia, 2800 m) groups. Concentration response curves to epinephrine, norepinephrine, endothelin-1, acetylcholine, and sodium nitro-prusside were assessed on aortic isolated rings. Left ventricular resting and maximal (during Tyrode's infusion) stroke volumes were evaluated by Doppler-echocardiography and used as indexes of chronic aortic volume overload.

Results: The main finding was that favorable aortic vasoreactivity adaptations consecutive to sea-level training were not observed when training was conducted at altitude. An improvement in the endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation (maximal relaxation, R(max), N = 60.4 +/- 10.0 vs NT = 91.7 +/- 3.2%; P < 0.05) and a reduced sensitivity to ET-1 were observed in NT rats. Such an enhancement in endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation was not found in CHT rats (R(max): 48.4 +/- 7.8%). Moreover, a higher sensitivity to ET-1 was reported in this group. Altitude-induced limitation in aortic blood flow and shear stress could play a major role in the explanation of these specific altitude-training adaptations.

Conclusion: If extrapolated to the peripheral vascular bed, our results have practical significance for aerobic performance as aortic vasoreactivity adaptations after altitude training could contribute to limit blood delivery to exercising muscles.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Altitude*
  • Animals
  • Aorta, Thoracic / physiology
  • Cardiovascular System*
  • France
  • Hypoxia
  • Male
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology*
  • Rats