The impact of a cold pressor test on brachial artery handgrip exercise-induced flow-mediated dilation

Vasc Med. 2015 Oct;20(5):409-16. doi: 10.1177/1358863X15586473. Epub 2015 May 28.


It is unknown how endothelial-dependent flow-mediated dilation (FMD) stimulated by a sustained, exercise-induced increase in shear stress (EX-FMD) is affected by a simultaneous sympathoexcitatory painful stimulus. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of a cold pressor test (CPT) on brachial artery EX-FMD elicited by a handgrip exercise-induced increase in shear stress. Participants were healthy males (age 21±2 years) (n=28; 16 Experimental group, 12 Control). Brachial artery diameter and blood velocity were measured using echo and Doppler ultrasound, respectively. Shear stress was estimated by shear rate (shear rate = blood velocity / diameter) and targeted to reach 75 s(-1) in each of two EX-FMD trials in all subjects. In the Experimental group, the second EX-FMD trial was accompanied by simultaneous foot immersion in ice water (simultaneous CPT). The shear rate stimulus did not differ between groups (p=0.823) or trials (p=0.726) (group × trial interaction: p=0.646) (average exercise shear rate (mean ± SD): 67.6±6.2 s(-1)). The CPT (experienced during EX-FMD trial 2 in the Experimental group) increased mean arterial pressure (p<0.001) and heart rate (p=0.002) relative to the Control group. %EX-FMD was not different between groups (p=0.508) or trials (p=0.592) (group × trial interaction: p=0.879) (EX-FMD: Experimental group trial 1: 5.4±3.4%, trial 2: 5.6±2.6%; Control group trial 1: 6.0±3.7%, trial 2: 6.4±2.2%). In conclusion, the CPT did not impact concurrent EX-FMD, and this indicates that an acute painful stimulus does not interfere with conduit artery FMD responses during exercise in young healthy men.

Keywords: Blood vessels; FMD; brachial artery; endothelial function; shear stress; sympathetic activation; vascular endothelium; vasodilation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Brachial Artery / physiopathology*
  • Cold Temperature
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology
  • Exercise*
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hyperemia / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Vasodilation / physiology*
  • Young Adult