Effects of high-intensity interval training on vascular endothelial function and vascular wall thickness in breast cancer patients receiving anthracycline-based chemotherapy: a randomized pilot study

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2019 Sep;177(2):477-485. doi: 10.1007/s10549-019-05332-7. Epub 2019 Jun 24.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of an 8-week high-intensity interval training (HIIT) intervention on vascular endothelial function, measured as brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (baFMD), and vascular wall thickness measured by carotid intima media thickness (cIMT) in breast cancer patients undergoing anthracycline-based chemotherapy.

Methods: Thirty women were randomized to either HIIT or non-exercise control groups (CON). The HIIT group participated in an 8-week HIIT intervention occurring three times per week on a cycle ergometer. The CON group was offered the HIIT intervention after 8 weeks. baFMD was measured from the brachial artery diameter at baseline (D0) and 1 min after cuff deflation (D1); percent change was calculated by measuring brachial artery diameter after cuff deflation relative to the baseline [baFMD = (D1 - D0)/D0 × 100]. The cIMT was obtained from the posterior wall of common carotid artery 10 mm below the carotid bulb. Paired t test and repeated measures ANCOVA were performed to assess changes in baFMD and cIMT.

Results: At baseline, the HIIT (n = 15) and CON (n = 15) groups did not differ by age (46.9 ± 9.8 years), BMI (31.0 ± 7.5 kg/m2), and blood pressure (123.4 ± 16.8/72.3.9 ± 5.6 mmHg). Post-exercise, baFMD significantly increased [4.3; 95% confidence interval (CI): (1.5, 7.0), p = 0.005] in HIIT versus CON group. cIMT did not significantly change [0.003, 95% CI - 0.004, 0.009), p = 0.40] in HIIT group, while IMT significantly increased from baseline to post-intervention (0.009, 95% CI 0.004, 0.010, p = 0.003) in CON group.

Conclusion: This study may suggest that HIIT improved vascular endothelial function and maintained wall thickness in breast cancer patients undergoing anthracycline-based chemotherapy.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02454777.

Keywords: Anthracycline-based chemotherapy; Breast cancer patients; High-intensity interval training; Vascular endothelial function.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthracyclines / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology*
  • Exercise Therapy* / methods
  • Female
  • High-Intensity Interval Training* / methods
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pilot Projects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anthracyclines

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02454777