Hypoperfusion of active skeletal muscle elicits a reflex pressor response termed the muscle metaboreflex. Our aim was to determine the muscle metaboreflex threshold and gain in humans by creating an open-loop relationship between active muscle blood flow and hemodynamic responses during a rhythmic handgrip exercise. Eleven healthy subjects performed the exercise at 5% or 15% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) in random order. During the exercise, forearm blood flow (FBF), which was continuously measured using Doppler ultrasound, was reduced in five steps by manipulating the inner pressure of an occlusion cuff on the upper arm. The FBF at each level was maintained for 3 min. The initial reductions in FBF elicited no hemodynamic changes, but once FBF fell below a threshold, mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) and heart rate (HR) increased and total vascular conductance (TVC) decreased in a linear manner. The threshold FBF during the 15% MVC trial was significantly higher than during the 5% MVC trial. The gain was then estimated as the slope of the relationship between the hemodynamic responses and FBFs below the threshold. The gains for the MAP and TVC responses did not differ between workloads, but the gain for the HR response was greater in the 15% MVC trial. Our findings thus indicate that increasing the workload shifts the threshold for the muscle metaboreflex to higher blood flows without changing the gain of the reflex for the MAP and TVC responses, whereas it enhances the gain for the HR response.
- Neural cardiovascular regulation
- peripheral reflexes
- integrated circulatory regulation
- Copyright © 2011, American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology