Exercise training improves functional sympatholysis in spontaneously hypertensive rats through a nitric oxide-dependent mechanism

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38 Scopus citations


Functional sympatholysis is impaired in hypertensive animals and patients. Exercise training (ET) improves functional sympatholysis through a nitric oxide (NO)-dependent mechanism in normotensive rats. However, whether ET has similar physiological benefits in hypertension remains to be elucidated. Thus we tested the hypothesis that the impairment in functional sympatholysis in hypertension is reversed by ET through a NO-dependent mechanism. In untrained normotensive Wistar-Kyoto rats (WKYUT; n = 13), untrained spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRUT; n = 13), and exercise-trained SHR (SHRET; n = 6), changes in femoral vascular conductance (FVC) were examined during lumbar sympathetic nerve stimulation (1, 2.5, and 5 Hz) at rest and during muscle contraction. The magnitude of functional sympatholysis (Δ%FVC = Δ%FVC muscle contraction - Δ%FVC rest) in SHRUT was significantly lower than WKYUT (1 Hz: -2 ± 4 vs. 13 ± 3%; 2.5 Hz: 9 ± 3 vs. 21 ± 3%; and 5 Hz: 12 ± 3 vs. 26 ± 3%, respectively; P < 0.05). Three months of voluntary wheel running significantly increased maximal oxygen uptake in SHRET compared with nontrained SHRUT (78 ± 6 vs. 62 ± 4 ml·kg-1·min-1, respectively; P < 0.05) and restored the magnitude of functional sympatholysis in SHRET (1 Hz: 9 ± 2%; 2.5 Hz: 20 ± 4%; and 5 Hz: 34 ± 5%). Blockade of NO synthase (NOS) by NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester attenuated functional sympatholysis in WKYUT but not SHRUT. Furthermore, NOS inhibition significantly diminished the improvements in functional sympatholysis in SHRET. These data demonstrate that impairments in functional sympatholysis are normalized via a NO mechanism by voluntary wheel running in hypertensive rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H242-H251
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2014


  • Blood flow
  • Blood pressure
  • Muscle contraction
  • Vascular conductance
  • Voluntary running

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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