The exercise metaboreflex is maintained in the absence of muscle acidosis: Insights from muscle microdialysis in humans with McArdle's disease

John Vissing, David A. MacLean, Susanne F. Vissing, Mikael Sander, Bengt Saltin, Ronald G. Haller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


1. In McArdle's disease, muscle glycogenolysis is blocked, which results in absent lactate and enhanced ammonia production in working muscle. Using McArdle patients as an experimental model, we studied whether lactate and ammonia could be mediators of the exercise pressor reflex. 2. Changes in muscle interstitial ammonia and lactate were compared with changes in blood pressure and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) during static arm flexor exercise at 30% of maximal contraction force. Muscle interstitial changes in lactate and ammonia were assessed by microdialysis of the biceps muscle, and MSNA by peroneal nerve microneurography, in six McArdle patients and 11 healthy, matched controls. One McArdle patient also had myoadenylate deaminase deficiency, a condition associated with abolished ammonia production in exercise. 3. Exercise-induced increases were higher in McArdle patients vs. controls for MSNA (change of 164 ± 71 vs. 59 ± 19%) and blood pressure (change of 47 ± 7 vs. 38 ± 4 mmHg). Interstitial lactate increased in controls (peak change 1.3 ± 0.2 mmol l-1) and decreased in McArdle patients (peak change -0.5 ± 0.1 mmol l-1) during and after exercise. Interstitial ammonia did not change during exercise in either group, but was higher post-exercise in McArdle patients, except in the patient with myoadenylate deaminase deficiency who had a flat ammonia response. This patient had an increase in MSNA and blood pressure comparable to other patients. MSNA and blood pressure responses were maintained during post-exercise ischaemia in both groups, indicating that sympathetic activation was caused, at least partly, by a metaboreflex. 4. In conclusion, changes in muscle interstitial lactate and ammonia concentrations during and after exercise are temporally dissociated from changes in MSNA and blood pressure in both patients with McArdle's disease and healthy control subjects. This suggests that muscle acidification and changes in interstitial ammonia concentration are not mediators of sympathetic activation during exercise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)641-649
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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