Directional sensitivity of the cerebral pressure-flow relationship in young healthy individuals trained in endurance and resistance exercise

Exp Physiol. 2022 Apr;107(4):299-311. doi: 10.1113/EP090159. Epub 2022 Mar 11.


New findings: What is the central question of this study? Does habitual exercise modality affect the directionality of the cerebral pressure-flow relationship? What is the main finding and its importance? These data suggest the hysteresis-like pattern of dynamic cerebral autoregulation appears present in long-term sedentary and endurance-trained individuals, but absent in resistance-trained individuals. This is the first study to expand knowledge on the directional sensitivity of the cerebral pressure-flow relationship to trained populations.

Abstract: Evidence suggests the cerebrovasculature may be more efficient at dampening cerebral blood flow (CBF) variations when mean arterial pressure (MAP) transiently increases, compared to when it decreases. Despite divergent MAP and CBF responses to acute endurance and resistance training, the long-term impact of habitual exercise modality on the directionality of dynamic cerebral autoregulation (dCA) is currently unknown. Thirty-six young healthy participants (sedentary (n = 12), endurance-trained (n = 12), and resistance-trained (n = 12)) undertook a 5-min repeated squat-stand protocol at two forced MAP oscillation frequencies (0.05 and 0.10 Hz). Middle cerebral artery mean blood velocity (MCAv) and MAP were continuously monitored. We calculated absolute (ΔMCAvT /ΔMAPT ) and relative (%MCAvT /%MAPT ) changes in MCAv and MAP with respect to the transition time intervals of both variables to compute a time-adjusted ratio in each MAP direction, averaged over the 5-min repeated squat-stand protocols. At 0.10 Hz repeated squat-stands, ΔMCAvT /ΔMAPT and %MCAvT /%MAPT were lower when MAP increased compared with when MAP decreased for sedentary (ΔMCAvT /ΔMAPT : P = 0.032; %MCAvT /%MAPT : P = 0.040) and endurance-trained individuals (ΔMCAvT /ΔMAPT : P = 0.012; %MCAvT /%MAPT P = 0.007), but not in the resistance-trained individuals (ΔMCAvT /ΔMAPT : P = 0.512; %MCAvT /%MAPT P = 0.666). At 0.05 Hz repeated squat-stands, time-adjusted ratios were similar for all groups (all P > 0.605). These findings suggest exercise training modality does influence the directionality of the cerebral pressure-flow relationship and support the presence of a hysteresis-like pattern during 0.10 Hz repeated squat-stands in sedentary and endurance-trained participants, but not in resistance-trained individuals. In future studies, assessment of elite endurance and resistance training habits may further elucidate modality-dependent discrepancies on directional dCA measurements.

Keywords: directionality; endurance training; habitual exercise; mean arterial pressure; middle cerebral artery mean blood velocity; repeated squat-stands; resistance training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / physiology
  • Resistance Training*