Previous studies indicate that sex-related differences exist in the regulation of cutaneous vasodilation, however, the mechanisms remain unresolved. We assessed if sex-differences in young adults exist for cholinergic, nicotinic, and β-adrenergic cutaneous vasodilation with a focus on nitric oxide synthase (NOS), cyclooxygenase (COX), and K+ channel mechanisms. In twelve young men and thirteen young women, four intradermal forearm skin sites were perfused with the following: 1) lactated Ringer's solution (control), 2) 10 mM Nω-nitro-l-arginine, a non-selective NOS inhibitor, 3) 10 mM ketorolac, a non-selective COX inhibitor, or 4) 50 mM BaCl2, a nonspecific K+ channel blocker. At all four sites, cutaneous vasodilation was induced by 1) 10 mM nicotine, a nicotinic receptor agonist, 2) 100 μM isoproterenol, a nonselective β-adrenergic receptor agonist, and 3) 2 mM and 2000 mM acetylcholine, an acetylcholine receptor agonist. Nicotine and isoproterenol were administered for 3 min, whereas each acetylcholine dose was administered for 25 min. Regardless of treatment site, cutaneous vasodilation in response to nicotine and a high dose of acetylcholine (2000 mM) were lower in women than men. By contrast, isoproterenol induced cutaneous vasodilation was greater in women vs. men. Irrespective of sex, NOS inhibition or K+ channel blockade attenuated isoproterenol-mediated cutaneous vasodilation, whereas K+ channel blockade decreased nicotine-induced cutaneous vasodilation. Taken together, our findings indicate that while the mechanisms underlying cutaneous vasodilation are comparable between young men and women, sex-related differences in the magnitude of cutaneous vasodilation do exist and this response differs as a function of the receptor agonist.
Keywords: AChR microcirculation; Acetylcholine; Adrenaline; Endothelium-dependent vasodilation; Thermoregulation.
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