Contribution of nitric oxide to the blood pressure and arterial responses to exercise in humans

R Campbell, J P Fisher, J E Sharman, B J McDonnell, M P Frenneaux

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An exaggerated blood pressure (BP) response to exercise predicts future cardiovascular risk. The mechanisms underlying exercise-induced hypertension remain unclear, although endothelial dysfunction and elevated arterial stiffness may contribute. Given the association between reductions in nitric oxide (NO) and vascular dysfunction, we sought to determine whether acute inhibition of NO synthase with N(G)-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA) would lead to exaggerated BP responses to maximal exercise and attenuate exercise-induced reductions in arterial stiffness. In 10 healthy subjects (31±5 years), BP and heart rate (HR) were measured before, during and after an incremental cycling exercise test to determine maximal oxygen consumption (VO(2)max). Trials were performed with placebo (saline) or intravenous infusion of L-NMMA on separate days in a randomized, double-blind, crossover design. Central (aortic) and peripheral (femoral) arterial stiffness were assessed using pulse wave velocity (PWV). BP was increased with L-NMMA at rest and during sub-maximal exercise, but not at maximal exercise (mean BP 117±5 vs 118±8 mm Hg, saline vs L-NMMA, P>0.05). Furthermore, L-NMMA had no influence on exercising HR or VO(2)max (P
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-270
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Human Hypertension
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


  • Adult
  • Aorta
  • Blood Pressure
  • Compliance
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Exercise
  • Exercise Test
  • Femoral Artery
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Pulsatile Flow
  • Time Factors
  • omega-N-Methylarginine

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